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How to make change less threatening: Persuasion, simplification, and “normalisation” through animation

When change can be intimidating – animation can help messages appear more “friendly” and simple.

This post was inspired by a news story I saw this weekend about Australia’s conversion from pounds to decimal currency back on the 14-th of February 1966.

decimal currrency ad

This  conversion was a big move for a country used to pounds sterling currency. It was a step into the unknown away from the familiar.

TB training group

As a “persuasion professional” I’m very interested persuasion techniques – in this case preparing people to be more accepting of change.

To help the public feel comfortable with the conversion  – the government used “cute” animation and a singing character “Dollar Bill” to help make the change appear less threatening – and more simple and understandable.

Here is a link to a government ad specially devised for that special date – the 14-th of February 1966.

I encourage you to watch the ad and note:

1. The use of a well-known Australian song (Click Go the Shears) to help embed the messages. The message about the new and unfamiliar inside an old and  familiar and Australian tune.

2. the power of the visuals  – and the “pound” is portrayed as old-fashioned (orchestral, bald, in bow-tie and tails)  compared to the “new” and “easy going” decimal currency – especially the character “Dollar Bill”

3. The repeated visuals of what the new coins will look like – to help the audience get ready for the new coins and notes when they begin to mix with the old.

And when were they to  begin to mix?

That’s right – the 14-th of February 1966!

That song was meant to be catchy – like an advertising jingle.

I think today’s audience is more sophisticated and less open to animation persuasion. In the 1960s ( and the ’50s) friendly, simple animation was used in advertising too – and many TV shows used animation in the show titles.

Animation ruled the TV airwaves!

O.K. – here’s that clip for you to analyse:

A more dramatic example of animation persuasion –  atomic power

The period following WWII was the atomic age.

An exhibit of California Design I recently visited featured a display on how Walt Disney was brought in to help  “normalise and familiarise” atomic power  – reducing  intimidation and increasing normalisation by using animation.

walt-disney atomic

The display showed clips from The Disney “Atomic” animation. It was interesting how a powerful  atomic explosion was conveyed as a giant powerful genie – still powerful, but there to do mankind’s bidding.

atomic 2

atomic animation

There were even atomic boardgames – and “atomic design” with atoms representing modernity (at that time).

Boom atom

TB atomic

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once joked about the simplicity of animation in ads to explain “medical problems”.

Can you think of animation used to explain the complex or to make things less intimidating?

Please add to the comments section below!

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One comment on “How to make change less threatening: Persuasion, simplification, and “normalisation” through animation

  1. efangelist
    January 18, 2016

    Reblogged this on efangelist and commented:

    An earlier post – still vitally important lessons in persuasion. Very useful for making big business messages less intimidating through simplification. I’ve recently seen simplification used effectively in simplifying complex legal matters – not with cheesey 50’s style animation but sleek modern,simple visuals. Our primary sense is visual.

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This entry was posted on February 17, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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