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...”

Until tomorrow,


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