A gentle persuasion

Now there’s five minutes missing from my life. Most people find advertising extremely irritating and to be avoided like the plague. Chances are it’s because the advertisers are trying too hard to sell you an idea.

Strategy plays a big part in an effective campaign. One popular theory you might be familiar with is the ‘Nudge Theory’ which was originally proposed by Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein in behaviour economics.

Nudge Theory seeks to understand how people learn or discover something for themselves and then make a decision from the choices available. It looks at the design of choices and how people make instinctive and irrational decisions. For example you can Nudge someone by telling them how many people already bought that product or by a social comparison (eg, the Mac owner is part of the ‘in’ group and the PC owner is out). How you say something also makes a big difference – 2% fat or 98% lean? Or re-framing a product, like the baby carrots presented as junk food in this campaign:



The key is to influence actions. What’s in it for me? Will I be rewarded and to what extent? What will others think of me if I undertake that behaviour? Do I have the resources and skills to do the behaviour? Does my environment allow the behaviour to happen?

‘Forcing’ methods are confrontational and liable to provoke resistance – they require a conscious determined effort by the person to be changed. Nudge methods are easier for people to imagine doing, and less threatening and disruptive to actually do.

So maybe next time you see an ad that follows Nudge Theory, you might feel like saying: ‘I wonder if they have same day delivery?.’







About the author


#TribalShare - Neels Malan

Neels Malan


Creative Director, Photographer, Cyclist

As a designer, I start by envisioning the full picture of a project. This creates a yardstick by which ideas can be measured. As a photographer, I’m alway looking for composition and balance. And as a cyclist, I hibernate during winter.



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