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Take the shock out of your tactics

Ever see someone so desperate for attention they’ll do anything? At the cost of their self-respect, they will engage in the most crass behavior, using shock without the awe to court attention. They can be seen at a bar or any social gathering trying to score with a chick, or on your television screen trying to score with consumers against a glutton of other advertisers.

As people are more and more inundated with media, advertisers are getting more and more desperate for ways to get their attention. Sometimes this takes the medium to new highs, but often inspires it to go to new lows. Instead of personality and charm, we’re stuck with user-submitted posershomosexuality as a punchline, sexed up octogenarians promoting web hosting and fancy naming conventions, and companies that feel just because they donate to a cause it gives them the privilege to make fun of the plight of Tibetan Monks.

Shock tactics do help advertisers gain attention. However, whether that attention is a good thing or a bad thing depends on the audience's reaction. Take Groupon’s Super Bowl ads for example. Though Crispin Porter & Bogusky, a firm known for pushing the creative envelope, made some though provoking ads, the people they offended could not be silenced or bribed by great deals on trips or fancy dinners at ethnic restaurants. It’s no wonder they are doing emergency damage control, and the ads have been stopped post haste.

People prefer their ads with a twist, not a shock. Ads must be endearing, revealing something about the way people live their lives, or enhance the way they see themselves or the world. The best ads do not make light of themselves, their product, or their audience. They show their depth of understanding of their target audience, which in the end does more to form a strong, lasting relationship. Shock tactics do the opposite, distancing advertisers from their audience, and their goals.

Written by Ken Hammond on February 14, 2011

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Written by
Ken Hammond