Shock Advertising

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Shock Advertising (Government Sector)

“Shock adverting in public service advertisements: a study of the effects on UK university students”


Shock advertising is a type of advertising generally regarded as one that “deliberately, rather than inadvertently, startles and offends its audience by violating norms for social values and personal ideals. It is the employment in advertising or public relations of "graphic imagery and blunt slogans to highlight a public policy issue, goods, or services. Shock advertising is designed principally to break through the advertising “clutter” to capture attention and create buzz, and also to attract an audience to a certain brand or bring awareness to a certain public service issue, health issue, or cause (e.g., urging drivers to use their seatbelts, promoting STD prevention, bringing awareness of racism and other injustices, or discouraging smoking among teens). This form of advertising is often controversial, disturbing, explicit and crass, and may entail bold and provocative political messages that challenge the public’s conventional understanding of the social order. This form of advertising may not only offend but can also frighten as well, using scare tactics and elements of fear to sell a product or deliver a public service message, making a "high impact." In the advertising business, this combination of frightening, gory and/or offensive advertising material is known as "shockvertising”.


Is shock advertising effective in the 21st century?

The dissertation investigates the effectiveness of shock advertising by government, conducting a study specifically into smoking advertising campaigns. The criticism of Benetton and other companies for the shocking images used in their adverts is reviewed, advertising campaigns of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) are analysed. Research methodology uses qualitative and quantitative data obtained through primary research (questionnaires, sampling)...
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