The way you word something makes all the difference

What is framing?

The framing phenomenon is about the way we react to information depending on how it’s presented to us. Especially when that includes a loss or gain message.  

The evidence it works

Levin et al. conducted an experiment framing the fat content of beef in two ways to see which was more attractive.

They found the meat described positively was more attractive. Beef that was ‘75% lean’ was given higher ratings than ‘25% fat’ even though the product is exactly the same.*

Where it fits in our behavioural model – The ‘means’ METRIC

The three core principles of our Behavioural Model is that every behaviour has to have a motivation, trigger and the means.

The means are the resources to get what you want. This isn’t just money – choosing and buying also costs time and effort, thought and worry.

In theory, the means depend on what’s in short supply. So if we’re short of time, we’ll spend money. If we don’t want to take a risk, we’ll invest more thought. If everyone else is doing one thing, we’d rather join the queue and spend time, than feel like the odd one out.

But our judgement of these things is often flawed. For example, we can only judge numbers in comparison with other numbers and we’re inclined to not waste energy, so the easier something seems the more likely we are to choose it (like joining the queue). Which forms the basis of our Behavioural Model.

The means model is split into six different sections: Money, Effort, Time, Risk, Individuality, and Conscious thought. Which handily spells METRIC.

Framing is in the conscious thought part of our model. Our brains tend to go into autopilot mode when faced with certain information. In this case we wouldn’t stop to think that 75% fat free means there’s still 25% fat.

How we've used it with clients


Sometimes all you need to do is frame your benefit in a slightly different way to increase your sales. That’s what happened with Sharps fitted wardrobes.

We realised the enemy to our fitted solution was freestanding wardrobes. They seem a lot less effort to install and quicker to get hold of. But they don’t give you what you need – lots of storage. In fact, plenty of us have overstuffed wardrobes with a jenga of ‘stuff’ piled on top. 

Framing Sharps as ‘Twice as much space as freestanding wardrobes’ was the perfect positive use of the bias. Seeing a 7.4% rise in sales in their January 2019 TV campaign. You can read more here.




This 1991 advertisement from McDonalds is a perfect example of how framing something in a certain way can affect the way we look at it. By labelling the McLean Deluxe burger as “91% fat free” rather than “9% fat”, it frames the burger as a healthy product.

McDonalds knew that putting a positive spin on their product and opting for the ‘glass half full’ approach would be a lot more popular with people. 

The Framing Effect, McDonalds McLean Deluxe burger, 1991
Advertisement for McDonalds' McLean Deluxe burger, 1991

How we can help you

We’re an agency that makes your marketing more efficient with behavioural science. To find out how we can help you reach your goals, get in touch now.

By Ellen Jackson

Creative Copywriter