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, March 3, 2016

Make The VEGAN Choice. And Have Fun Doing It!

The advert  below depicts a story. A story that uses persuasive techniques to influence the identified target audience (students) towards a vegan lifestyle.



Without the overdone, emotional appeals, the advert highlights the Vegan Society aims and findings:

  1. Eating meat/dairy products endorses animal cruelty
  2. There is alternative vegan nutrition
  3. There are health and wellbeing benefits to being vegan
  4. Make veganism easily followable 
  5. Work with media to reinforce a positive vegan view
These findings are supported by Marcus (2001) and Goodland (2013). These researchers emphasise that there are more healthy vegan alternatives to meat and dairy products. They also found that those who are vegan are happier than those who are not. 

The Persuasive Techniques

This glimpse of the emotional video of the cow subtly emphasises to the audience, the pain that animals suffer to satisfy our "love". The purpose of the advert was not to shock the audience, but to incite intrigue to explore the food choice and to continue to watch the advert.

Mere Exposure

The transition from the song "Take my breath away" to "Killing in the name of", as the boys sit and watch the computer screen on the bed has an important purpose. 

The music choice is the second signal exposing the audience to the cruelty to the animals. The audience hear this and link the lyric "killing in the name of..." to the video contents Michael previously saw. 

The advert consistently exposes the audience to the lyric "can't touch this" as the boys simultaneously removed dairy products and meat from the fridge.

There is also dual exposure of the slogan "Make the Vegan Choice".

This is an effective persuasion technique known as "mere exposure" and is commonly used in advertising to produce more favourable attitudes.

Supporting Research:
Zajonc and Rajecki (1969) tested the effect of repetitive exposure of a stimulus on attitudes. They showed that the technique is applicable in advertising.

5 Turkish words were placed in the University of Michigan newspaper. Each word appeared with a different frequency.

1,141 university newspaper readers completed a questionnaire. The questionnaire was completed i) as a group ii) mailed and completed alone or iii) in a lab setting.

 The Questionnaire asked the participants to give their first impressions a list of unfamiliar words (good or bad word). Of these words, 5 were experimental and 7 controls.

Results & Discussion

Graph 1: The average affective ratings of the experimental Turkish words depending on there frequency for group, mailed and lab based questionnaires.

Overall, the greater exposure to the experimental stimuli, the more highly they were rated as "good". Very similar results from all three questionnaire methods also shows a consistent positive relationship between exposure and affective rating in advertising.


Lighting was an important tool in the attractiveness of the advert. The first half the advert was made very dim. Then, as the familiar "can't touch this" kicks in, there is a lighting change to bright and warm as the boys begin to change their food choice. This change becomes more prominent throughout. 

The lighting improves not only the overall attractiveness of the scene but also of Michael's face, brightening it up. The lighting also emphasises the attractiveness of the food in the last shot and contrasts it against the dullness of the meat and dairy products. 

The high camera angle and upright body posture also creates an attractive in-group feeling.

Michael also appears happier in his expressions. His body posture changes and the clothes change from a dark green hoody to a white t-shirt increases attractiveness in the last shot. 

The less attractive contrasted with more attractive makes the audience favour a vegan lifestyle more. 

Supporting Research
DeShields, Kara and Kaynak (1996) showed that the attractiveness affects consumer intentions. They specifically tested salesperson attractiveness.

Attractive and unattractive salespersons, previously rated, were recorded  presenting in a video advert persuading consumers to buy vehicle insurance.

963 participants in University classroom settings watched the adverts (one each) and rated each salespersons attractiveness. They also completed a questionnaire about how strong their intentions were to purchase the insurance policy.

Results and Discussion 

Graph 2: participants purchase intentions as a function of a high or low attractiveness salesperson

There is a statistically significant relationship between purchase intentions and attractiveness. The more attractive the salesperson, the greater the consumers intention to purchase.


The advert in no way, bombards the audience with glaringly obvious or forceful techniques. The advert presents persuasion techniques in a sophisticated manner. It effectively emulates the way that real advertising companies use persuasion techniques to persuade their target audiences towards a certain choice. 

This advert uses mere exposure and attractiveness to persuade the target student audience towards a vegan lifestyle whilst highlighting the Vegan Society aims. 

Make the Vegan Choice. And Have Fun Doing It!


DeShields, O. W., Kara, A., & Kaynak, E. (1996). Source effects in purchase decisions: The impact of physical attractiveness and accent of salesperson. International Journal of Research in Marketing13(1), 89-101.

Marcus, E. (2001). Vegan: the new ethics of eating. McBooks Press.

Goodland, R. (2013). Happier Meals, Eating Greenfully, and Chomping Climate Change.

Our vision and mission. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2016, from

Why go vegan? (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2016, from

Zajonc, R. B., & Rajecki, D. W. (1969). Exposure and affect: A field experiment. Psychonomic Science17(4), 216-217.

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