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, March 21, 2018

MOST complained about advert of 2015 #Epicstrut

Picture this: a middle aged balding business man named Dave- with the bum of Beyoncé- twerking down the street in denim hot pants and 6 inch stilettos to the pussycat dolls’ hit song ‘don’t cha’, only to finish with some ‘wise words’ from Sharon Osbourne. What an earth could this advert be for you ask? Believe it or not, it’s actually for website that compares insurance companies, loan providers and energy providers! So what does this actually have to do with insurance companies? Not a lot. Nevertheless, although this advert received 1,513 complaints, like many viewers you can’t deny that it didn’t leave some sort of lasting impression. When it was released it was the top trend on Twitter and received millions of views on YouTube.’s business grew by whopping 38%! I will share with you some of the persuasion techniques used to achieve this somewhat controversial success.

1)     Elaboration Likelihood Model – Petty & Cacioppo (1979)
Peripheral route– here viewers decide to agree with a message due to cues besides the strength of the argument. They lack the motivation or ability to think about them.  They are more focused on the superficial charm of say a man with a fake butt in hot pants twerking.

2)     Distinct Message – Sharp (2016)
Trying to build a relationship with the consumer is a thing of the past, distinct slogans that resonate in the viewers mind until they need something in that category work best “You’re so money supermarket”. It’s simple and it’s sassy. 

3)    Mere Exposure Effect – Zajonc (1968)
  This states that things we’re more frequently exposed to we deem more favourable. Whether you’re an Ozzy Osbourne fan, enjoyed tuning into the countless Osbourne-related television shows or watched the original X-factor you would have seen and heard about Sharon Osbourne. According to Zajonc (1968), we should therefore deem what she says as more favourable as we have been exposed to her a lot.

4)    Humour – Clow (2007) Weinberger and Gullas (1992)
Humour grabs the viewer’s attentions. In a test of attention effects, Speck (1987) compared humorous ads with non-humorous controls on four attention measures: initial attention, sustained attention, projected attention and overall attention. It was found that humorous ads outperform non-humorous ads on every measure. People are therefore more likely to continue watch this funny advert.  

Here's the advert for those of you that are interested.


Clow, Kenneth E. (2007). Integrated advertising, promotion & marketing communication. 3rd edition. Pearson: Prentice Hall.

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). New York: Academic Press.

Sharp, B. (2016). How brands grow: what marketers don’t know. Australia: Oxford University Press.

Speck, Paul S. (1987), "On Humor and Humor in Advertising," Ph.D. diss., Texas Tech University.

Weinberger, G., Gulas, C. (1992). The Impact of Humor in Advertising: A Review. Journal of Advertising 21, 35-39.

Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 1-27.

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