The paper "Effects of Benetton’ s Shock Advertising Campaign" is a good example of a marketing case study. Benetton advertising revolved around controversial subjects that hurt the company image. Some of the issues that the advertisement touched on include pollution, child labor, racial integration, war, AIDS awareness, and death among others. Shock ad is a double-edged sword. The adverts elicited mixed reactions on some of its ads. For example, negative feedback following the convict’ s ads led to the resignation of its creative director and Photographer Oliviero Toscani (Ganesan and Thota 2003). The company came to the realization that it had surpassed the limits of unconventional advertising.
Its campaign titled “ All the colors in the World” got positive feedback for its message on fighting racism; however, it brought out negative thoughts in England, the United States, and South Africa. Shock advertising has been discussed widely by media watchers as well as psychological researchers, it is believed that shocking ads bring consumers stronger feelings, gain more attention from consumers and help enhance the memory and influence behaviour as well (Manral, 2011). Users are more prone to recall shocking advertising messages over those that are less shocking.
Once your shock ad starts creating buzz, it will flood social media platforms and news outlets with impressive force. However, it can increase interest in the product or it can generate negative feelings which can affect the brand’ s image. The first negative effect it nay bring to a consumer is that it may cause discomfort among its customers. For instance, Benetton’ s advert that included a black woman breastfeeding a white baby was criticized for bringing back memories of the days of slavery.
Also, its ad showing a priest and nun kissing offended the religious including the pope. O'Barr (2011) explains that some type of advertising may not be received well by society such as those bordering on subjects such as sex. Equally, it featured an advertisement with a baby with an umbilical cord, which evoked mixed reactions. By highlighting such issues, the company has evoked feelings of embarrassment among some section of the public. In fact, a shocking advertisement that has a high perceived shock value or offensiveness may make customers angry or disgusted (Klara, 2012).
Subsequently, it could make them to actively ignore the ads in order to minimise their discomfort, thus avoiding the brand (Andersson, et al. , 2004). The ads led to bad relations with governments. The “ We on Death Row” campaign changed the approach of the company towards advertising. The campaign featured 26 inmates who had been sentenced to death. It contained full-color faces of death-row prisoners, their details, and the dates of execution (Ganesan and Thota, 2003). Also, a special booklet and a video were released to show the negative side of capital punishment.
Mainly, this ad drew the ire of local authorities hence bad blood with the Benetton. Shock ads are risky for companies with an image to protect. Fam and Waller (2003) say that controversial advertising has had different outcomes to companies as some have been successful while others have been damaged. Waller adds that controversial advertising could result in several outcomes like bad publicity, attract criticisms to bodies that regulate ads, lead to reduced sales, and product boycotts. On the other hand, (Kapoor and Kulshrestha (2012) argue that the choice of Benetton marketing technique of covering social issues set off social discourse about the company.
Marketers that want to carry out contentious advertising must know the thin line between successful communicating to the targeted audience and provoking some individuals.
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