Shockvertising: Advertisements That Push the Envelope
My initial intention this week was to examine innovative advertising techniques; not to delve into anything too specific or targeted, but rather to gain a little insight into what’s new and different as far as modern trends go. But midway through my findings, I was ultimately taken aback by how far print media ads and web-based ads have come lately in the attempt to seize our attention. There seems to be a growing number of ads pushing the limits of taste—not that that’s a particularly bad thing. A little extremism is healthy from time to time. What was interesting to me was that the more each ad attempted to push boundaries, the more of an effect the ad had on me.
Here are 3 shockvertising examples I found particularly interesting (click the links to view the pictures):
Ads sponsored by animal rights advocacy groups were particularly effective. An anti-animal testing advert featuring a woman holding a tiny puppy up to her face like it were a perfume bottle (its gasping cough as the perfume spray) sort of makes you stop and think.
One anti-cigarette pollution ad shows a river-fish cut in half lengthwise and splayed out on a table so that you can clearly see the excess of cigarette butts still inside of it after ingestion. A bit on the disgusting side, but certainly thought-provoking.
Also intriguing was an obesity awareness poster I stumbled across which focuses on the large midsection of a man strapped with explosives that look like sticks of butter. The caption: “Obesity Is Suicide.” Admittedly, it’s a stretch, but it makes sense. And again, violent imagery is the ad’s weapon of choice to provoke the viewer. We could read statistics all day about the obesity epidemic here in the U.S., but ultimately it DOES take shocking imagery to get the idea firmly implanted.
So, is this kind of shockvertising forgivable? Have we become comfortably numb to everything else? It might just be my opinion, but we seem to be so desensitized to the overwhelming concentration of ads we encounter on a daily basis that a little poke or prod to our sensibilities is probably a good thing from time to time—if it gets the wheels in our heads turning, that is.
Many of these ads, I discovered, are currently banned in several countries—which is likely why we haven’t seen them in the States. But at the end of the day, the bottom line is effectiveness. Would these approaches work in the U.S.?
What do you think? Is shock value a viable marketing tool?