Shock Advertising: Not So Shocking Anymore. An Investigation among Generation Y

Brandon Urwin, Marike Venter


In today’s society, marketers are going to extreme measures to attract consumers’ attention in an attempt to break through advertising clutter. A widely used method is shock advertising, however, the effectiveness of this method is questionable. This study aimed to explore the effectiveness of shock advertising on Generation Y consumers in today’s society. Three variables were analyzed, namely, level of shock, norm violation and memory recall, with five different types of shock (impropriety, moral offensiveness, sexual references, disgusting images and religious taboos). The moderating effects of these relationships with gender, religion and personal identity were also explored. By means of a quantitative study, 300 university students were asked to complete questionnaires. The overall findings indicated that shock advertising has become obsolete and that marketers need to implement alternative ways of ‘breaking through the clutter’. This paper provides marketers with a better understanding of the (in)effectiveness of shock advertising and proposes the importance that marketers should find alternative methods to capture the attention of consumers.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n21p203

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This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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