The power of shock campaigns

I was at a family dinner last night, which included a fair bit of extended family. While we were all sitting around the table enjoying dinner, an advert for Quit came on the TV in the background. It was an older advert, the one where they show a little lost boy crying at the train station because he’s lost his mum.

The voice over emotively says, ‘This is how your child feels when they’ve lost you for a minute. Imagine how they’d feel if they lost you for life.’

The three fathers around the table all said they hated that advert. I was intrigued. Why did they hate it? Was it because as fathers they couldn’t handle the idea of seeing their own children upset? I think that’s the whole point of the advert, to make that emotional connection with parents and give them a real reason beyond themselves to quit.

Research shows that shock tactics do work, because it shows people the consequences of their actions. Shock tactics are also famously used by World Vision, Work Cover and the TAC.

Marketers tend to see the value in the use of shock tactics. I remember seeing the Quit advert for the first time and thinking, ‘Wow, great advert.’ But maybe that’s because I’m in the industry and I can immediately see what they’re trying to do. Point in case, my sister was laughing at me while we were watching the advert because I had a little, superior knowing smile of ‘Yep, that’s a great ad,’ but then my cousin said, ‘But what’s it for?’ So my cousin (whose a dad) despite having the emotive connection with the advert, didn’t get the intended message of the advert which was ‘Quit smoking.’

I think shock tactics have their place, but it doesn’t work for all brands and with all demographics. And advertisers have to ensure that the actual message they want to make gets across before the audience gets too upset and switches off, otherwise the point of the campaign is lost.

Personally, hats off to the advertisers out there willing to take a risk and offend their audiences in order to get the hard messages across. I’ll be interested to see what they come up with next.

See link to the advert below;

Posted By Rachel


About dgmadvertising

DGM Advertising are a full service, marketing, creative and advertising agency based in Melbourne. With 11 years in the business, DGM Advertising are a boutique agency who specailise in digital content, social media and online marketing.
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