Shocking ads don’t change attitudes

It seems as if we are entering the perennial world of complaining about “shock tactics” in advertising – see the recent furore over the Barnardo’s campaign showing a baby injecting itself with drugs. I join in the complaint, but purely on the grounds that these tactics, from my experience, never seem to work effectively anyway.

Everything from road safety to AIDS have been subjected to shock tactics, inevitably with poor results.

My experience of over 40 years in the advertising business and in many different countries has taught me that when trying to influence the young in particular, the choices of approach are simple – a subject is either “cool” or “uncool”. In more simplistic terms, if the subject falls within the “cool” bracket, then no amount of denigration will change that attitude.

In fact, shock tactics often augment the desire to participate, and rebel against authority. Not unusual in the young – even I can recall similar emotions back in the Fifties.

The answer must surely lie in making all these things “un-cool” or simply ridiculous, or even a rip-off.

Maybe some of our creatives and clients should spend a little time on more basic psychology?

Norm Clark

NormClark Training

46250 Frayssinet-le-Gelat



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