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Claudia Jonge

Graduate Student,

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The use of shock advertising by social marketers is an effective strategy to change behavior. Or has it contrary/counter effects?

For my graduation assignment I will research the topic of shock advertising in the Western European non profit sector. The use of shock advertising in social marketing raises besides ethical questions another: Have shocking and fear appealing advertising strategies in the non-profit sector the intended effects?

In this paper I want to research the effectiveness of shock and fear appealing advertisements used in the Western European non-profit sector. Another point I want to research is what methods and strategies can lead to optimum results and can improve the likelihood of changing behaviors without leading to anxiety or resistance. Furthermore, examining the effectiveness of the methods, one which focus on the physical elements of fear and one that focus on the social elements of fear in the advertisements.

With creating a debate about this specific subject I want to reach a number of objectives besides input for my research:
1. Receive notice of the different approaches
2. Seeking for truth with the exchange of information
3. Finding the relevance of the topic
4. Creating a meaningful opinion and create recommendations

Please leave your comments, suggestions and ideas about this topic and lets enjoy this debate.


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    Feb 15 2013: In my opinion, anxiety is the ONLY reaction 'social marketers' (whoever those are) are aiming at.

    In modern 24/7/365 media terror societies, in which we became unable of NOT being subjected to any form of advertising, commercials, brand-names, logos, jingles and beauty models by our sensory organs, how do those 'social marketers' get to 'ring' another bell of ours? And here even a bell of 'our' personal 'importance' in their and their advertising customers eyes?

    How do they penetrate our 'horny media skin' by their, but yet another message? How do they catch our eyes which have seen all of the bright side of sweet promises - every day since birth? Glamor, Beauty, Youth, Happiness, Friends, etc.?

    Anxiety is a powerful emotion and compared to knowledge, way more likely to induce a behavioral change within us.

    For instance, in 2013, in the western world, there is no active smoker anymore who doesn't know about the risks he/she is taking. So, if not anxiety, what do you think the UK health department is trying to generate in your given example? Just a 'visualization' of this knowledge for a 'better' understanding?

    Humans are world-champions in suppressing better knowledge. This is part of our nature, part of our optimism and a necessity for our lives not to 'freeze in anxiety' facing all the risks surrounding us every day.

    To place a 'message' behind those lines of personal defense, one got to be drastic, shocking, unexpected for it to sink in, again and it is necessary to bypass the filter of our 'ratio' and to sting right into our instincts, of which fear is one of the strongest, if not THE strongest.

    Shock advertising has to get very personal and this is why it is even more suspicious to me than the 'regular' ones. WHO is going to place ITS message within ME and WHY? Is the UK health department only interested in the 'health' of smoking people, or is it a 'cost saving program' to health-care? What about car driving then? Shouldn't we get to SEE it too?

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