The Fun Theory



Taking the stairs instead of the escalator is something we always heard from our doctor, or seen in a magazine. But most of us don’t heed the warnings. This is just one of the obstacles that The Fun Theory took on. “The Fun Theory” was created by Volkswagen Sweden and ad agency DDB Stockholm as a competition to recognized that “fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.” One of Volkswagen’s fun theories included was the Piano Staircase. The theory was that people would take the stairs more often instead of the escalator or elevator by making the staircase “fun.” The hypothesis propositioned that by making a staircase more fun to do, people would stop using easier ways of transportation, such as escalators. By promoting the use of stairs, we could eventually improve the health of others by promoting an active lifestyle and a good well-being.

piano-stairs2Volkswagen decided that persuasive technology could convince people to begin to use the stairs again. The concept was for each stair in the subway staircase to produce various sounds when pressure was applied to their surfaces, as a piano would if it was being played. The randomized controlled experiment took place at the Odenplan subway station in Stockholm, Sweden, next to an escalator. A group of randomized unsuspected subway commuters were tallied as they were given the choice to take plain steps or an escalator. In the second trail, another group of randomized commuters were give the same option, but with musical stairs. This left people with the choice to either participate in the giant musical steps or to use the escalator.

In the concluding video you can see that more commuters became interested in the musical staircase. The resulting video showed that the interactive staircase persuaded 66% more people than normal chose to use the staircase instead of the escalator.

Although there could have been a third variable involved, such as more active people commuting on one day instead of the other, or the role of chance coming into play, the statistics are strong and would be very interesting to see in a more controlled experiment.

The goal with these fun theories are to promote Volkswagen’s new environmentally friendly BlueMotionTechnologies brand. DDB Stockholm quotes that “as traditional advertising is becoming less effective, and the competition in the market for environmentally sound cars is becoming more fierce, we believed we needed a more innovative approach to draw attention to BlueMotion.” Although Volkswagen’s main goal is to promote their new car, they bring up a very goo theory. That making this fun can promote and teach the world. He also goes on to say that “[Volkswagen’s] experiments and our Fun Theory films make the world a better and more fun place to live.”

Watch the video to see how fun can transform people’s way of thinking and doing.



6 thoughts on “The Fun Theory

  1. Johnna Nicole Hayward

    Hey Elisa!

    I loved your post and definitely think it’s a great idea in hopes of getting people to become more active. In NYC there used to be a huge toy store (it just recently closed) and there was a huge floor piano that customers could try. So I imagine this experiment was something like that. I also did some research and discovered that there were multiple experiments performed based off of this “Fun Theory”. One of them which I found interested was a speed detector which took pictures of the cars driving the proper speed rather than the wrong one. These drivers were later awarded with free lottery tickets.
    Based on the results I believe that these experiments have been overwhelmingly successful and should start to be applied to other aspects of our lives. What about applying the “Fun Theory” to encourage people to walk places rather than taking public transportation or their own vehicles?

  2. Eric Choi

    Pretty cool idea! I would definitely take those steps in a heartbeat. It is an interesting study and I feel as though we can do a lot more with it. You can have musical panels to step on in airports instead of standing on that moving runway that goes like .5 mile an hour. It is kind of ironic that Volkswagen is doing these fun tests in order to promote their cars, instead of for the sake of improving healthy lifestyles. But at least their cars are environmentally friendly and efficient.

  3. Leah Emily Tancer

    Wow-this is so cool! I have never seen fun stairs but if I did, I think I would definitely opt to take them instead of an escalator. That is such a good idea! However, if these “fun” stairs were to become a trend, would people still take them as much? Or are there different types of “fun” stairs being introduced, so that people don’t grow tired of them. Either way, implementing this alternative is a great way to get people to take the healthier route upstairs!

  4. Taylor Leigh Mitchell

    This post was even fun to read about and watching the video was very interesting. I am very happy that someone has finally decided to promote exercise to citizens in a fun and easy way. I think that they could apply this technique to all parts of life and it would be very effective. People would not even realize that they are exercising because the fun element takes away the negative thought of moving.

  5. Giana Shan Yu Han

    This was an extremely interesting post because I had never heard of the Fun Theory. It is a very interesting concept, one that could have many positive impacts in this world. I can definitely see how people would be more interested in taking a piano staircase than a regular one. However, I am curious as to whether they looked to see if it was consistently successful. After using the piano staircase several times, would the novelty wear off? People may get tired of the noise or lose their interest and revert back to taking the escalator. This was a very creative post, and it was also very relatable to the daily debate whether to take the elevator or the stairs.

  6. Briana Michelle Wright

    The piano stairs was a perfect example to support your claim. It is a really interesting thing that we all do but never really notice, I would have never thought of this idea on my own. Good job!

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