How one of the best ad campaigns of past 17 years used behavioral science…

How one of the best ad campaigns of past 17 years used behavioral science...

You don’t have to be a behavioral scientist to change behavior… but understanding the principles is a huge help if you want to *consistently* change behavior.

It’s similar to cooking.

You don’t have to be a chef to bust out a delicious meal every once in awhile, but understanding the principles of cooking will make your hit rate a *lot* higher.

I think that the fields that can gain the most from a solid understanding of behavioral science are advertising, product design, and human resources.

And today we’re going to talk about the first field on that list: advertising.

Recently, I stumbled across AdAge’s list of the top advertising campaigns in the 21st century (so far).

The 15th campaign on the list is the UNICEF Tap Project.

It’s a brilliant campaign that takes advantage of quite a few behavioral science principles.

Here’s how it worked:

To spread awareness of, and gain more for, drinking-water issues, UNICEF partnered with a bunch of different restaurants. When customers got their bills, they were asked to donate $1 to UNICEF for the drinking water they received.

Simple and brilliant.

And here’s why this kind of program is so effective:

1. It takes advantage of reciprocity

You’ve already been given a nice, cool glass of water… so you feel indebted to the person asking for a (small) donation. 

2. It takes advantage of anchoring

Eating out is expensive. Even a dinner at the Olive Garden costs an average of $16.50 per person… and most of the restaurants that were involved in this program were likely much more expensive.

$1 seems like nothing when compared to $16.50, or $20, or $30…

3. It piggybacks on a payment that’s already occurring

Getting someone to make a purchase is hard–really hard. Getting a person to tack on an extra item to a purchase that is already occurring? Not so hard. This is called piggybacking.

As one of the creators of the campaign said: “In a restaurant you’re ready to make a transaction,” he explained, so providing the average person with the option to add a dollar to provide safe drinking water to disadvantaged children would not be unwelcome. “Who wouldn’t do that?” he asked, “It felt like such an obvious, low-hanging fruit, no-brainer idea…”