It’s Easy to Shock, But Does It Work?

Posted in: Creative, Measurement, TV ads

On: March 27, 2012

It’s easy to shock an audience with advertising – but does shocking advertising work at actually getting a message across to the audience? That can be tougher to answer.

In one memorable meeting a Creative Director I worked with told our client “I could take a dump on your boardroom table and that would be shocking.” Fun meeting. His point was that shocking your audience is easy but making them change their behaviour is hard.

Social marketers – those seeking to change personal behaviour – often use shock to make their point and capture attention. Think of all the shocking drinking and driving or smoking ads you’ve seen over the years.

Or watch this new spot on date rape from the UK that is receiving a lot of attention. It is a powerful spot, but does it work?

It is best to think of communications in the marketing or PR context in the more honest term of “persuasion”. When you communicate, you want to not just share information but persuade your audience to take a specific action.

Shock can work. But just because something is shocking does not mean it is persuasive.

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