Balancing the Cause Shock-Factor
Balancing the Cause Shock-Factor: Navigating the fine line between communicating an issue and taking a message too far.
Social marketing, which aims to capture attention and initiate behavior change, is most effective when it evokes emotion and feelings. But what if it’s the feeling of your stomach turning? While effective social marketing is often “edgy” (e.g., showing body bags to curb youth smoking), two recent campaigns demonstrate how shock-factor can range from the effective to the offensive.
A PSA for the 10:10 global campaign, a program focused on encouraging participants to cut carbon emissions by 10 percent each year, caused outrage with the extreme measures it took to show what happens when people opt not to take action to fight climate change. Particularly offensive was a segment in the “No Pressure” video in which a teacher blows up students who refuse to take part in cutting emissions. The gory video prompted Sony U.K. to distance itself from the organization by dropping all support for the climate change campaign. In response, the video director issued a public apology for the offensive imagery.