What makes someone stop smoking or eating a packet of Tim Tams before bed? Or motivates them to put on their sneakers and jog around the block ... or book a Pap test if they're overdue?
This is a discussion we have all the time in the Cancer Prevention Centre. And it's particularly pertinent right now as we're putting the final touches to our new PapScreen TV commercial.
Sure, we rigorously focus test our concepts and executions, but you can't focus test every woman in Victoria, nor can you create something that takes into account every comment you received.
Years of research tells us that if you want someone to stop doing something you need to shock them (the stick): show them consequences, the impact on their friends and family. The TAC does a great job of rattling cages in this regard. Quit has also traditionally taken this approach, as have government ads around drugs or alcohol. Last year our SunSmart program ran the Dark Side of Tanning ads, which aimed to debunk tanning myths and change pro-tanning attitudes.
On the other hand, if you want folks to add something to their life, we've learned you need to frame the message positively (the carrot), and show the benefits of eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise or having regular screening tests. Volkswagen call it the fun theory.
But then everyone is different. What frightens some people into action may scare someone else into complete avoidance or denial. Then there are those desensitised types who might not even raise an eyebrow over something tantamount to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
So recently, we've seen some traditional shock advertisers trying their hand at humour or satire (cue: the Government's ‘Championship Moves' campaign targeting young male drinkers or VicRoads' controversial ‘Don't be a Dickhead' campaign). Does humour work for serious topics?
Which ads have made you stop and think about your health recently, or caused you to change your behaviour?
Blood and guts or smiling people enjoying their life - what works for you?
Read our blog participation guidelines and join the discussion. (Please note: Your first name will appear with your comment, but your surname and email address will not be shown.)