Thoughts on "shockvertising"

by Monika Vaiciulyte

While conducting research and
 gathering information for a university project, a colleague and myself became 
particularly interested in what has become commonly known as "shockvertising": advertisements with provocative content.


"Shockvertising"  has
 been frequently adopted and discussed in recent years. However its effect on 
the audience has yet to be proven due to the double-sided nature of
the phenomenon. Shockvertising works by attracting the attention of the audience. At the same time, it plays on highly emotive elements
 which in normal life might be considered negative. Embarrassment, fear, sadness and disgust are just some of the emotions often roused by shockvertising.

But can a line be drawn between
 compelling advertisements that may persuade the 
customer to purchase the product or service - and the crass, distasteful kind
 of advertisements that we have become only too familiar with? Even more
 perplexing, why should the negative emotions generated by these campaigns influence us
 to buy a product, use a service or donate to a cause? Is increased globalization 
and the modernization of the world numbing our empathy? Or has the audience become so blasé that advertisers need to “wake” their emotions

Hook up

Furthermore, we could ask ourselves whether the emotions stirred by Shockvertising are really necessary, or even desired by the consumer. They may be just a way for
 brands and organizations to get free publicity.

 have selected the  examples due to their nature and the controversy 
they caused: the United Colors of Benetton "Unhate" campaign, Virgin Mobile's “Hook up fearlessly”, and an antismoking campaign. They rely on different shock appeals – sex
, taboos, ethical issues, pain and disease.

We know that this site gathers individuals
 who are passionate about advertising. So we invite you to contemplate the work shown here and think about the kind of emotions it arouses in you.

Anti-smokingJointly researched with Amy Mulcahy, also a student at Lund University MSc Globalization, Brands and Consumption