Awareness Campaign (Audience) – Shock Advertisement and shock art

*Reflecting back to my brief my sculptural piece I would use for an awareness campaign which I feel would be best suited to a poster, though I’m setting this for an exhibition and have to display it as you would for that. I feel shock advertisement is suited to how I would convey and send the message to my audience, it instantly has an effect on the audience through the use of imagery.*


Shockvertising or Shock advertising is the kind of advertisement which uses concepts that violates social norms or general personal ideals. Such kind of advertisement is generally used to break the monotony of the “normal” advertisements and instead “shock” the audience and create a buzz about the advertisement. The use of disconcerting images that often border on the offensive, to draw the consumer’s attention, is a well-known marketing ploy that has been around in the West for quite some time now. In fact Benetton is considered to be the pioneer of shockvertising and its advertisements in the late 1980’s were the first of its kind which shocked the people.

^ *I am turning a disorder that is not visible but psychological and giving it human characteristics, I feel it’s suited to this area as through the characteristics it’s showing the true horror of what everyday people can suffer. People are not aware of  the effects it has on the mind and the way it can control you, this is why through me looking at symptoms, behavioural and psychical effects it I can have. I can then manipulate the form to appear for what it truly is which to me is devious, haunting and evil. This will shock my audience through the characteristics and will be my way of challenging my audiences understanding of the disorder, to have an impact instantly. *


Consumers are more likely to remember shocking advertising content over advertising content that is not shocking. But if a consumer finds a certain kind of advertising content threatening or disturbing, the message will be filtered out. An example of this a heavy smoker who could be filtering out a picture of cancer sick lung since the content could be perceived as disturbing and uncomfortable.

Advertisements which use the negative emotions to create shock do not make the audience feel good after being exposed to such advertisements. So using shockvertising may actually evoke negative feelings whenever the customer sees the brand logo or name of the company and may cause an uncomfortable feeling along with the brand recall.

In case of a cause or an issue, using shockvertising can work by getting the attention the cause deserves and getting people interested in contributing or working for it. It can sensitise people to other cultures and ways of life. Causes like Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Lung Cancer, AIDS, and Animal Rights (PETA) have used shock advertising very effectively in the international context.

^ *The idea for me is tho grab my audiences attention and make it more aware because as it is seen as something psychological, this causes people to be blind of how damaging it can be. This then enforcing people to be mindful and understand the effects it has, the imagery will reel you in then it will give you more of an insight and information about the disorder and how you can help.*


Any brand trying to sell product and services must add to the happiness of the customer. Experts say brands need to have positive imagery in order to have an excellent brand recall. Across the globe, brands like Coca Cola, Dominoes have all used positive imagery for their brand promotion. Shockvertisement may cause anxiety and increased pulse rate each time the advertisement is aired, but if they are made tastefully, to not cause repulsion from the audience and with a message to arouse consciousness among the public then it will definitely have a deeper impact on the customers. At times negative imagery can also create positive impact as seen in the above examples. Ultimate is aim to get desirability and not negativity or repulsion for your brand and these needs to be taken care of while creating shockvertisements.

^ *I am not trying to sell a product therefore this is why I’m not having positive imagery and colours within my work, this is to raise awareness which is to convey a message. I want to make the audience quite disturbed and creeped out, the idea as said above to raise consciousness among the public to then have that deeper more personal impact on the audience.*



  • Bangalore Traffic Police has been running an outdoor advertising campaign using disturbing photography to shock people and to discourage them to talk to their friends and families on the phone while they are driving. Men and women are shown grimacing as blood spurts out from their telephones. The tag line: “Don’t talk while he drives”.
  • The reason shock advertising doesn’t repel but actually grabs us is because of the emotional reaction.
  • The pale colours, whitened colours against that contrasting blood red really makes this impactful, showing the true horror of the consequences of being on the phone whilst driving, something that is seen as something so innocent shown for it’s worst.
  • It’s not pretty and not something you want to see but it sends the message to the audience and the audience being anyone that drives really, it’s grotesque and out there but definitely makes you think about your actions or future actions.


  • Usually within shock advertisement they have the main subject central so that’s it’s at focus and in full effect. Within this they use a vignette effect which fades into the background, this also bring the ‘ baby heads ‘ to focus by spotlighting it in a way. This why lighting of my exhibition is needed as it would’ve been needed if it was for it’s poster.
  • Also with colour the background consists of cool tones sets a mood for the overall image, making it more serious and gives of a eerie hospital vibe.
  • By using a large quantity of heads wrapped around the woman’s heads gives you this sense of anxiety as it shows entrapment, the doll heads in appearance are creepy and also associated within horror movies. Something that is seen so innocently when we’re children but then as adults people use toys that you once loved and makes you relate to and foreshadows it to be something more sinister that what is first interpreted when a child = takes away the innocence and sub conscience attachment as it forms emotional connection that we had to our toys when we were children.






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