Thursday, October 1


It's a question that's lingered for quite some time, but never really been properly answered: Is shock advertising effective, or are the audiences too shocked, and busy complaining to take notice of the advert's actual message?

The main companies I can think of that manage to create plenty of enemies and receive masses of complaints are Benetton and Barnardo's. One particular Barnardo's campaign that featured in several newspapers before being banned consisted of a baby injecting itself with heroin. There are some positive reviews however - some think shock is necessary in order to successfully deliver the message:

"Anything that wakes people up to this is for the better. People sit around with their heads in the sand too often" - Roger Alton, The Observer.

The editor of the Guardian claimed that its readers were sophisticated enough to deal with it and understand the message. However this clearly wasn't the case. It's likely that audiences will be more accepting of shock advertising if it for a good cause, but sometimes charities can't even escape the fact that their message won't outweigh the horror that the audiences feel. I think this'd be a great subject to investigate further, as I'd really like to explore whether it is possible to ethically deliver such a shocking message about such horrific topics, or whether shock is the only way forward.

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