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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jack Wills' BANNED Advertisement

Following the release of the company Jack Will's Spring Catalogue was released in this year of 2016, accompanied by a television advert, the advertisement project was banned. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) deemed it inappropriate due to it's overt sexual suggestiveness that may directly or indirectly reach audiences younger than Jack Will's target demographic of 18-24. This uncontrollable sexual exposure, said to be potentially influential to impressionable youth, was enough to persuade the marketing team of the company to completely withdraw the advertising campaign to prevent a potential drop in sales. The sexualisation of this banned advert as well as the reasoning behind banning it both portray very clearly the effects of using sex as visual persuasion tool and how it is potentially dangerous to use.

King, McClelland, and Furnham (2015) conducted a study addressing a similar topic which in fact, questions whether 'sex sells' and it's effectiveness in viewer recall. In the context of Petty and Cacioppo's (1986) Elaboration Likelihood Model, the message was well retained by the target audience of 18-52 through testing free recall, prompted recall, and brand recognition. This a result of sexual appeal or visual motivation causing a shallow and short lived, yet immediate influencing change.

Fig.1: Results of the King, McClelland, and Furnham study regarding the recall measure of different             variants of sexual exposure in television and advertisements.

As evidently put in Figure 1, the results clearly shoe a higher measure of recall of the brand itself, and the nature of the imagery freely and when prompted when a sexual advertisement is contrasted after following a non-sexual programme. This evidently shows us how that in spite of standard deviations weakening the effect, the conducted Repeated Measures ANOVAs reveal that sexual advertisements did significantly influence peoples short term recall, of not just the imagery, but the branding/ message being intentionally advertised. This is the understandable effect we can see Jack Will's aspired to achieve.

However, in spite of a potential peripheral effect, this campaign overlooks the over side of the Elaboration Likelihood Model in which those that are motivated to perceive the advertisement critically. As sexual imagery is a topic of controversy, being perceived as inappropriate to specific audiences, it has a boundary in which, if crossed, becomes too visibly inappropriate and taboo, and becomes more of a sexual statement rather than a tool for expressing the appeal of the message/ products at hand. The advert was evidently over the line, as put by the APA, and the marketing was commented on as unnecessary. Evidently, sex is something to use with caution in persuasion.


King, J., McClelland, A., & Furnham, A. (2015). Sex really does sell: The recall of sexual and non‐sexual television advertisements in sexual and non‐sexual programmes. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29(2), 210-216.

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (vol. 19, pp. 123-205). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

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