Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Let me take a selfie...with my sponsored product

I’d like to think that as a generation we are not completely brainwashed by the modern technology as our parents and older generations appear to suggest and moan, however, if you look closely these social media websites we spend our days on are full of little advertisements and influencing us to behave and act in certain ways.

This culture of seeing everyone’s daily lives doesn’t just stop with our friends we now have access to the daily lives of celebrities and our idols, creating a form of an attachment or relationship with these people. This perhaps the reason why there is a big trend towards ‘Reality TV Programmes’ which show us into another world. A style of life that seems a million miles away from mine and I think it’s this comparison that makes us want this style of life even more.


 We accept that whilst we accept that we cannot live like this it does not stop us looking at ways we could possibly be like them, and advertising agencies seem to know that to live like this would be ideal, but if we can’t maybe if we just appeared to look like them that could solve all the problems. This is where I have noticed the trend of products being thrown around, products we wouldn’t usually even consider and yet when teamed with a seemingly natural, but really a well filtered selfie I start to question myself as to whether these items, despite a lack of evidence to suggest they work, could really lead me one step closer to that ‘Made in Chelsea’ lifestyle and appearance we aspire to. But, do people actually buy these products?

Illicic and Webster (2011) conducted a study which compared how our attachment and familiarity with a celebrity and the number of endorsements they make affects our attitudes towards a product or brand. A student sample was used was used due to their susceptibility towards them forming an attachment with celebrity figures. They were assigned to single or multiple endorsement condition related to a particular celebrity whom they had to rate their familiarity and attractiveness level to, their opinion on the brand and ad and how this would influence their purchasing intention. The graphs below highlight the findings.

Figure 1: Interaction effect of the dependent variable purchase intention.

This study importantly found that purchase intention was most likely in the strong attachment/single endorsement situation and least likely in the weak attachment/ single endorsement situation. Overall the findings of this study imply that consumer attachment to a celebrity foes impact consumer attitudes towards the ad, brand and purchase intention. This study highlights the benefits of using reality TV stars over other celebrities such as actors and actresses, with these Reality TV programmes they do seem to be made in a way that we feel involved in their daily lives, have seen the workplaces and homes. 

Lueck (2015) conducted a study which primarily looked at celebrity endorsement through social media platforms focusing on Kim Kardashian, who is known to be the most successful celebrity endorser. The study looked at her Facebook fan page and her Facebook posts and fan’s responses were rated for; approval, disapproval, advice, third-party involvement, informational response and reaction. The results show that depending on the type of post, message of post, the format of the post, the product advertised that celebrity endorsement is a successful advertising strategy. It is suggested to be because of the creation of the illusion of intimacy with the celebrity.

So, no matter how silly it may seem, that a random photo here and there could be an effective advertising strategy, it's a win for the advertising company and those fortunate to be given the chance to advertise for money. I am now off to invent a believable 'miracle product', take a selfie with it and maybe I will be one step closer to that Made in Chelsea lifestyle, wish me luck!!


Ilicic, J., & Webster, C. M. (2011). Effects of multiple endorsements and consumer–celebrity attachment on attitude and purchase intention. Australasian Marketing Journal (AMJ), 19(4), 230-237.

Lueck, J. A. (2015). Friend-zone with benefits: The parasocial advertising of Kim Kardashian. Journal of Marketing Communications, 21(2), 91-109.

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