Is audience by violating norms for social values and

Is the use of Shock
Advertising justifiable?


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It’s a re-occurring reality that a vast number of
organisations particularly charities fall back on the use of shock advertising
to generate an emotional response in people. Charities have realised to force
us to donate they have to simulate this feeling of shock, whether this form of
advertising is justifiable some say the shock has been taken to an extreme
point. An issue has been raised, the ideology of shocking is being overused to
a point where people are no longer shocked and not resorting to other
capabilities of making a charity a focus without having to use the effect
surely there are other ways to raise awareness.

What is Shock

Shock advertising has been defined traditionally as
advertising that ”deliberately, rather than inadvertently, startles and
offends its audience by violating norms for social values and personal
ideals.” In summary, shock adverts are purposely created to attack controversy
and sensitive subjects, which targets our ethics and values to manifest an
emotional response to our mind.(1)It is primarily used by causes or issues for
which public opinion needs to be canvassed. It can be used effectively to cut
clutter, create buzz and get a social service message across. In fact, public
service campaigns and social issues use shock advertising to most
effectiveness. In other words, it is used to grab attention and to be
publicized in medias

There are two different types of shock advertising, the
first being intellectual shock. Intellectual shock ads often use a type of
reverse psychology. They are shocking because often times they are being very ”honest’
with consumer, sending the consumer a mixed message.2 These adverts cause
uncertainty in the consumer causing them to have mixed responses as they do not
what or who to trust let alone their own opinions and judgements. This type of
advertising is less commonly used by charities as they do not need to evoke
this type of ”shock” as they are not trying to sell a product nor a brand,
they are primarily trying to make their cause the main focal point which
helping others which they don’t need to be validated for.

Second type is Visceral, Bruce
Grierson describes visceral advertisements as the ones that scare, sicken, or
even turn you on


The real question here is if it is the right choice for them
to use shock advertising as a means to get a response from the audience. Charities
like Benetton are justified in the use of shock advertising to evoke an
emotional reaction which lead us to donate or better yet volunteering. The
continuous use of shock advertising will no longer have the effect the initial
one had, which is why charities should use other forms of advertising instead
of overusing it. Instead of showing the negative effects, the contrary can be
used to show the positive effects that the donations have had and show the
long-term effects in which will occur if donors continue to donate but as well
new donors joining creating a relationship between them and the charity.
Positivity induces endorphins, positive campaigns with results will show the
donor the effects resulting in them being happy instead of a negative mood and
losing hope. Shock adverts have a sell-by date just as well as consumer
products have a shelf life, to create the same effect repeatedly new shocking
images need to be used to evoke the same response. Is it justifiable for shock
adverts to be used to sell fashion items? Clothing companies like Diesel use
underage models, risky and explicit words to advertise. 


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