CreePy, distuRbing campaigns

      72 Comments on CreePy, distuRbing campaigns

creepyunclesamAs America still buzzes about Miley Cyrus’s “shocking” on-screen behavior, there were a couple of even more disturbing images put upon us this week, each designed to shock us into taking some kind of action.  But the images within these “public service” campaigns are just plain creepy–and also quite effective.

According to TheHill.com, a $750,000 campaign funded by Generation Opportunity, a group with ties to the wealthy and conservative Koch brothers, “is intended to discourage college students from signing up for the new healthcare exchanges.”  One 60-second video ad, “The Exam,” features a very creepy Uncle Sam character preparing to give a young woman a gynecological examination.  It makes the “Obamacare wants to take control of your health” argument in a sexual and ugly way, using scare tactics and distortions to make its point.  And it’s getting plenty of attention.

baby-chainThe well-known animal rights group PETA is no stranger to controversial messages.  Its infamous “The Holocaust on your plate” campaign was quickly pulled when Jewish groups screamed about comparing killing animals for food to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.  There have been many over-the-top ads from PETA including its newest, featuring a chained baby and captioned, “Kids don’t belong in chains. Dogs don’t either.”  The message is correct but the image it uses is very shocking–and it gets us to notice.

Disturbing messages are exactly what these organizations are going for.  They grab our attention and then we (after those in the media bring them to our screens) shake our heads and talk about how awful they are.

I deeply dislike these kinds of negative campaigns and believe there’s no place for them.  They serve to make these groups look extremist which I believe ultimately hurts their longer-term missions.  But in a nation of free speech, they are permissible messages whether we like to see them or not.  Ultimately, I have to reluctantly tip my hat to these organizations for successfully pulling off what they set out to do — they got us to notice.  Your thoughts?

72 thoughts on “CreePy, distuRbing campaigns

  1. Jeremy Epstein

    There are two problems with ads like this. The obvious one is that they are incredibly extremist. I can guarantee that if a woman signs up for Obamacare a crazy looking Uncle Sam would not give her a gynecological exam. The other problem is that these messages are so extremist and distort the truth to such a high level that people believe it. For some people, this will be the only news they see when it comes to Obamacare. They will develop opinions based on these ads. The goal with an ad like this is to get people’s attention. While advertisements like these accomplish that goal, it does a disservice by the way it goes about it.

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  2. Emily Green

    Yes it is true that disturbing images grab our attention and seep into our brain, but is it necessary? Absolutely not. These disturbing images are too controversial and in the end I believe they take away from the overall message. We focus more on the disturbances of the images than we do to the message itself, so basically these companies are being counter-productive. It is not difficult to get a message across without the use of extreme disturbances and controversial images that may offend or upset some groups of people. It is true that these companies look like extremists, and from a public relations perspective that is not a positive image to obtain. They should be creating messages and images that get their point across in a straight-forward way without the unnecessary use of extremities.

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  3. Richard I

    Creepy, disturbing ads do get our attention and really make us take a good look at the image and message they are trying to depict. However, creepy and disturbing ads are not ones that I ever take seriously. When I see an ad with Uncle Sam about to a perform a gynecological exam, I stare for a minute to think WHY in the world is this printed on paper and then look to see who paid for it. Once I see who paid for it, you can basically form an opinion right there if the image should be taken seriously. If you are going to spend $750,000 on a campaign to convince students not sign up for their new healthcare exchanges, don’t use a creepy version of Uncle Sam trying to stab me with a woman’s surgical tool. As for PETA, they are notorious for having these kinds of ads. At one point they had celebrities pose naked as part of a “our skin is their fur” campaign, yet months later the celebrities are out in public wearing fur. How can you take an organization seriously if they don’t act as tough as their ads do? Organizations that have successful campaigns like Red Cross don’t use cruel and disturbing images to get our attention, they use normal, real-life images and videos to prove their point in a tasteful manner.

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  4. Brenna O'Shea

    I already commented on this post but just a little something I thought was interesting… I went to show someone I work with “The Exam” video because I think it’s crazy, over the top, and hysterical at the same time. I must have clicked every video on YouTube and they were all removed! I was so mad because I wanted to show my co-worker! The controversy and what some people may consider “inappropriateness” of this video clearly became too much that it had to be removed from the public.

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  5. Laura Schioppi

    I believe these organizations went a bit too far with some of their campaigns. I understand that they must do extreme ads/campaigns in order to get the public’s attention, but they must do it in a tasteful way. I think the comparison of PETA using animals to Nazi camps is disgusting. They are offending people while trying to make awareness for their cause. Everyone’s campaign should be informative while trying to make a point. They must deliver their key message, but not insult anyone in the process. I believe these are good steps to a successful campaign.

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  6. kerry stewart

    I honestly cannot believe that this ad was purely to attract the attention of viewers and express a point to them in order to raise awareness about Obamacare. I genuinely believe these drastic ads are created to achieve ratings and achieve personal gain for the business. I feel like some of these ads are not only disturbing, but so far from the actual purpose and point that it takes away the validity of the argument. Overall, I do not agree with ads such as these.

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  7. Julia Marie Miller

    Could anyone inform me of the following: What Ad Company worked on the creative for “opt out: the exam” for “Generation Opportunity”? I am having a very difficult time locating the name of the company which created the 60 second ad for Generation Opportunity. Does anyone have any leads?

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  8. Michael Yehuda

    I think the PETA association has gone way too far this time, from pouring flour on Kim Kardashian, and now this. PETA is not doing the right thing to get their message out. Their advertisements are mostly offending and way too extreme. First things first, they should never compare human consumption of animals to the evils of the Holocaust by the Nazi regime. That advertisement was highly offensive and should be removed from any billboard or any television channel. If they want people to hear what they have to say, they should be more courteous to other individuals and not offend them. They are almost hypocrites. They condemn animal cruelty, but yet they harass people who wear a fur coat or eat a hamburger for dinner. This is not the proper and professional way to get people to listen to them.

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  9. Olga

    Nowadays the audience drastically lost its sensitivity. It’s a fact. You can judge by the movies, ads, etc. There is more violence, more sex, more “f “ words on TV than it was 30 years ago. Thus, such companies as PETA are using disturbing messages, which, in their opinion, will make people change their attitude to this or that matter. I guess the fact that their ads caused resonance among the audience witnesses that they got your attention. But unfortunately it doesn’t mean that people will change their behavior, and stop eating meet for example. Different tools are necessary to apply to change somebody’s behavior. It’s a matter of long process, not just seeing one ad. Otherwise all smokers would quit smoking right after they saw ads about scary consequences of that habit.
    I personally always change channel when I see something like Green peace ads about stopping seals hunting ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWEvAbFf99U) . I just can’t see that. It’s understandable why these organizations do that: they so desperate to bring the awareness to the masses, to change this world, that it brings them to the line of extremism. The issue with such types of ads is since the loss of sensitivity is a continuing process, that means next generation will be even less sensitive than we are now. To what feelings will they address then? They’ll have to be more heartrending, to affect more. But is “more” possible in that case?

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  10. Alexandra Ciongoli

    While getting a message across to the public is definitely important, I dislike the skewed ads through which these groups choose to showcase their messages. Such campaigns are not purposed for spreading factual information, for strictly alerting the public of the harsh reality of a situation and letting that public make up their own minds. These campaigns send biased information into the world in hopes of convincing as many people as possible to be for or, in many cases, against whatever issue is being debated.

    Although the “truth” smoking commercials, (which feature video clips of a veteran smoker speaking through an electrolarynx, or show a dead smoker’s clogged artery being emptied out) are as equally disturbing as Uncle Sam giving a young girl a gynecological exam, at least the “truth” commercials are authentic. The company behind “truth” wants to alert American smokers of the realistic consequences of their actions, and hopefully stop them from pursuing a habit that is so blatantly harmful to their own health.

    Campaigns such as the two mentioned in this blog post use images and that are extreme, inaccurate, and unnecessarily vulgar in order to achieve their goal. I think you should be good enough at your job to be able to shock people strictly by using the facts, untainted and unbiased.

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  11. nicole_lombardo

    These organizations set out to accomplish one thing and that was to get noticed. I feel that even thought they did succeed in that it was a terrible way to go. The reason people act on feelings is because they are excited about something, they are feeling motivation and want to join in. I can’t recall one time that I did something because I was scared into, if anything I ran further away from it. Although these organizations succeeded in what they wanted to do, I believe it was the wrong approach. There are better ways to get a point across.

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  12. lmansl1

    While these ads may be disturbing I believe they are effective. When people are being bombarded by advertisements companies need to find a way to stand out amongst the clutter. Although these ads are taken to the extreme they get the point across. People know you do not chain a baby with a collar while they also know a gynecologist appointment under Obama care will not be that creepy. The shock value of the ad gets the people’s attention which could lead them to thinking about the issue in further depth.

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  13. Hector Bonilla

    The effectiveness of shock ads is questionable. However, I believe that the right type of shock ad is unquestionably effective. Perfect example: just last week in PR 260, we viewed a series of ads handpicked by Professor Morosoff. One stands out in particular – a PSA against the stereotyping and abuse of the mentally disabled. And what was the lead-up to that message? A montage of racial minorities in the United States stating, “It’s not ok to call me a [racial slur].” The ad was effective in my opinion because even after the potentially uncomfortable intro, the message came across clear and decisive. Displaying a baby on chain, on the other hand, just seems purely shocking and confusing at first and then an attempt to get under the audience’s skin.

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  14. LaChele Prophet

    These ads do grab attention. People do end up talking about how awful and harsh they are. But I guess they do their job, they’re getting you to think about the message. I just think there is a better way to do it than offending people. I mean some of them are really disturbing. I don’t think these organizations need to take their ads as far as they do to get attention.

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  15. Rachel Tom-Quinn

    I agree that the ads hurt the company in the long run but in the mean time we’re all talking about them. Miley for example was basically non-existent post Hannah Montana and now EVERYONE is talking about her. Even if what they’re saying is negative they are noticing and googling and making her relevant again. It’s the same with PETA and the creepy uncle Sam, they are getting their messages out there.

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  16. Kendra Sciortino

    I think that these ads cause more negative emotions than anything else. Although the ads may catch our attention, I do not think they are truly serving their purpose. This is because viewers focus these negative emotions to these ads. Even though many viewers probably agree with the message these ads are portraying, the format in which they are viewing them is very negative and causes negative reactions.

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  17. Brenna O'Shea

    Organizations such as PETA want to capture our attention. The way they choose to do it can be rather shocking and in a negative way. They need to focus on creating more positive imagines that are as effective in grabbing our attention as the negative ones are. I would like to know how many people see an ad such as the PETA ad with the child chained to a pipe, and become a member of the organization. In other words, are these ads effective beyond the point of grabbing our attention? If so, then PETA should continue what they are doing. I think people see these ads and become disgusted and concerned. I do not think they want to be a part of an organization after seeing ads like these. An ad like this would not convince me to become a member of PETA, it leaves me wondering why such a harsh ad. PETA could be turning people like me away instead of luring them in and gaining more activists.

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  18. Molly Eyassu

    I completely agree! In my opinion, negative and haunting public service announcements do grab the readers/viewers attention but for the wrong reason. This method has all shock value but draws the audiences attention from the actual issue. These PSAs don’t inform or convince anyone. They just draw the wrong kind of attention to the organization.

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  19. Max N.

    With any marketing campaign you want your message to stay with people long after they see your ad. Viral marketing campaigns are highly sought after and incredibly rewarding when they work right but these over the top campaigns are just going about it the wrong way. The Sarah McLachlan PSAs for the ASPCA are probably better known for its parodies than the actual message it is trying to deliver. PETA’s ads have probably done more damage to to their image than good to their cause. There has got to be a better way to sell me your message than by tugging at my heartstrings.

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  20. Ishan Kumar

    It was apparent that PETA’s new advertisement will grab the attention of many and it did. I believe that in our fast paced lives and our attention span shrinking, advertisements like these does create hullabaloo for some time. Moreover I believe that PETA’s strategy is to create controversial ad’s like these, just to get the message across. According to me there are many other ad’s that are more graphic (wear seat belt campaign).
    I personally believe that many campaign’s do have the right motive. ie. to create awareness but a better ethical channel should be adopted. A subtle way of getting the message across still works.

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  21. apate93

    If the overall goal is grab your attention (obviously it is), then they’re messages are working. But it just shows one of the downsides of society today, or even humanity in general: go big or go home. If you want people to notice you, you have to go over the top, even if that means distorting your message.

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  22. stacy05

    I found these campaigns very shocking. I have seen a couple of PETA ads; I also think that they often cross the line and use the wrong approach to get their message across. I believe there are so many other ways to grab people’s attention without being negative and offensive

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  23. Sharlys Leszczuk

    I am not impressed by these ads that people put out. There are many other ways to get your name in the media instead of extremely disturbing ads like this. I am an advocate for groups that deserve attention. i think that Miley Cyrus achieved her goal of getting her name back in the media, but I think there were so many better ways she could have gone about it. As for organizations like PETA and Generation Opportunity, I don’t think that they should try to elicit any valid response from dramatic, visually disturbing ads like that. If they want people to understand their position, they should honestly argue what they believe with support. Ads like this cause way too many Americans to jump on a bandwagon when they have no idea what direction its going in.

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  24. Lindsey

    Although these campaigns are disturbing and offensive and use the often frowned upon “shock value” style of marketing, they are accomplishing what they set out to, get noticed. In a world full of constant streams of never ending information coming at the average citizen from every angle, it is easy for advertisements that are about less exciting issues to fall by the wayside. Sometimes the only way to get a viewers attention is to shock them. When an issue is serious and deserves attention, stopping at nothing to get that attention often seems justified. The problem is, taking the chance of offending the demographic you are marketing to can do more harm than good.

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  25. Nick Stiles

    I do agree that these advertising campaigns are a bit extreme and can be offensive in certain cases but there is no denying how effective they are. These organizations are just trying to create a buzz around there name and doing something controversial. For example Miley Cyrus’s behavior is nothing new, every year at the video music awards someone puts on a controversial performance and people don’t realize its just a gimmick. Miley Cyrus’s performance got people talking about both her and the VMA’s. It may not have been the most wholesome way to advertise but it definitely grabbed the publics attention.

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  26. Julia Ryan

    I think your comparison to Miley’s recent stunts is completely accurate. Both Miley and the companies who are featured in this post are going for the shock factor in order to attract attention and press….and both are succeeding. However, despite the buzz surrounding these outlandish publicity stunts, the message they are trying to send is getting loss. Like you mentioned, these ads only work to make the companies look extremist and that reflects poorly on the company itself. The audience is so distracted by the ad, that their attention is diverted away from what they are trying to say. I think there are better, and more effective ways that both of these companies could have said the same thing.

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  27. janecapants

    These organizations did accomplish getting the message out there and grabbing people’s attention, but their ads also make a lot of people disgusted and shocked. The ads force people to view the organization in a negative and off putting way. There are plenty of other methods organizations can use to get their message out to society that are not so offensive.

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  28. Brittany Witter

    I agree that there are definitely ads out there that go too far. But they are doing this for a reason, with the PETA ad my opinion is very strong. It is not okay to show a baby in chains, while it is not okay to chain up a dog, a baby and a dog are not the same thing! But PETA wins because everyone is talking now, everyone is aware, and now their message has been received, just like they intended!

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  29. acasole

    In my opinion, these tactics to get the public’s attention are very effective. This “shock factor” tool in the media really does grab the attention of our society. An ad as creepy and as shocking as “The Exam,” may not have received as many views if it wasn’t as disturbing. With the shock factor of this PSA, it has received over one million views on YouTube. The shocking footage of this PSA, created a buzz about the negative ad in society and the media, which has led to the amount of views that it has earned. I feel that initially, this tactic is great for getting a company/organization attention, but in the long run can create a negative persona for the organization. Viewers may also not look past the creepiness of the ad and not get the true message and purpose of the PSA, which is a negative aspect of this tactic as well.

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  30. marilynoliver

    In the name of advertising and getting people to notice, it’s a job well done. I think a company has to be clear about their intention before sending a creepy and/or controversial campaign out. If they purely are just looking for shock value and more company awareness, then sure, these PETA and anti-Obama campaigns do the trick. However if a company’s intention is for more company awareness AND a sustainable, tasteful, and high quality reputation then they might want to rethink it.

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  31. rachelcarru2

    These organizations did get their points across with these controversial advertisements. It is a pity that it takes this much scandal for them to get their opinions across. It is also a pity that they believe that it is necessary to do these things in order to catch peoples’ opinions. Is it our fault for the severity of these ads? Do we imply that these types of ads are necessary to catch our attention? Maybe we need to reevaluate the way we respond to ads. Just a thought.

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  32. adrianazappolo

    The fact that we are all talking about these ads means that PETA and Generation Opportunity have accomplished exactly what they set out to do, which is to grab our attention! Sometimes shocking/disturbing campaigns are the only way to accomplish this. Yes, many people may be offended, but the organizations know this before they publicize their campaigns. They know that many people will be outraged, disgusted, or will simply look the other way. But there is that group of people who will see the ad and it will have disturbed them so much that they will take action. Maybe the ad will change their minds about a particular topic, or educate them about something they didn’t know. I am a vegetarian, and although I agree that some of PETA’s ads may “cross the line,” when it comes to animal rights, sometimes the only way to get through to people is to shock them. A simple ad that is not disturbing may avoid the controversy, but it certainly won’t catch the attention of people and get the message across.

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  33. Jaime Silano

    Unfortunately, it has become evident that in order to leave an impression on viewers, companies and organizations need to go to extremes and incorporate the element of shock into their messages. Thanks to Miley’s recent endeavors, we can all see that shameless controversy sells. I agree with the people addressing Rolling Stone’s cover after the Boston bombings, it was totally offensive and inappropriate, but sometimes the most offensive and shocking media is the media we buy into. Organizations are losing sight of the idea of respect and integrity in their reputations. I believe although selling out into the tactics of getting attention based on controversy may be the quickest easiest way to sell what your selling, there are other ways to do so without being so offensive and extreme. After all, once a message contains elements of extremism, I believe it becomes irrational. There is a lot of potential to lose credibility with such “in-your-face” blunt extremism. There needs to be another way to sell whatever it is you’re selling without offending the entire population.

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  34. Robert Ryan

    Personally, a clever commercial is typically what gets me talking about effective marketing. However, in our society today, typically, the most extreme stories tend to get the most notoriety (anyone else see the rolling stone cover after the Boston marathon bombings?). Extreme stories get people to tweet in horror and tell their friends to go check it out so they can be as horrified as you. So the strategy almost always work. Companies can feed off of hysteria their ads make. I know I always want to be the most informed out of my friends so as soon as I see something noteworthy, especially when they’re ugly, I run and show them. So I guess they got me.

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  35. Brie Schachtel

    Some ads are very disturbing. At the same time what might be seem as extreme and inappropriate in the United States may not get the same reaction elsewhere. For example, when I visited Rome I saw a makeup advertisement and the makeup was put on a polar bear cub. I was appalled because that would be unacceptable here and be seen as animal testing but in Europe it was normal.

    You are correct though when you said the ads are being noticed. Whether the reactions are positive or negative they are remembered and talked about.

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  36. Laurel Smith

    What I immediately thought of when you mentioned “negative campaigns” are the ads we see when politicians campaign for office. Instead of focusing in on the good, our expensively dressed leaders of tomorrow turn into teenagers at a high school prom. Did you see what he did? Did you hear how she didn’t keep her promises? What is that that he’s doing? Etc. These extremist campaigns you refer to are similar. Everyone is trying to send a message across advocating how good he or she is or how cutting edge a company is, when instead they are going about it in a completely negative way. How can we the public, trust a group of people to do good when they advertise so poorly? Doesn’t that show that however they plan on achieving their goals are going to be done so in a negative or malicious way? And why is it, that American advertising can no longer function without slamming the opponent? Something we need to consider and review carefully.

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  37. Danie Zolezzi

    Well I guess these companies agree with Miley Cyrus in believing, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” I also hate this type of extremist advertising. I think one can get across a message to an audience without being so inappropriate. However, I do agree that they accomplished what they intended to do. They are getting most biggest bang for their buck. By utilizing this advertising strategy, they are much more likely to reach more people and get talked about. I hadn’t seen the Obamacare ads before reading this post, so what did I do? Naturally I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I watched the commercials. True it’s vulgar and usually unsolicited, but it works.

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  38. caitlin

    The advertisements that these organizations show are often controversial and disrespectful and in this case I think there is such a thing as “bad PR.” You don’t want your organization to be remembered for showing ridiculous things that make individuals feel uncomfortable. PETA uses scare tactics in order to make people believe an acknowledge what they are sayings. These types of Ads generally make me feel uncomfortable and I immediately stop watching. Although they get individuals attention I don’t believe they are necessary.

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  39. Yeliz A

    This relates to almost everything in life, not just ads and campaigns. When you do something with shock value, people will notice. When people notice, your audience begins to increase, and when that happens eventually you gain money, fame, etc. and isn’t that pretty much what everyone is aiming for these days? Isn’t the ultimate goal to get people to pay attention and buy what you’re trying to sell? You cannot necessarily place the blame entirely on the ads and/or the media. People have changed, and what they want to see on the big screen has also changed. Our eyes have been exposed to so much in this ever-growing generation of public information that we want more, but most importantly we want it to be different. If this means we have to make something more provocative, controversial, and buzz-worthy then so be it.

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  40. Kelly Cormier

    Although organizations such as PETA do an excellent job of getting the public’s attention, they are not going about it in a positive way. I agree that their advertisements can make them seem too extremist and will ultimately have a negative effect on them in the long run. PETA stands for a good cause- ending mistreatment of animals. However, most people do not take them seriously and often see them as a little bit psychotic. Crossing the line and “shocking” people will get them talking at first, but it does not attract any kind of positive attention and most likely causes more opposition than support. Offensive advertisements are bad PR; even if a message is meaningful and important, that message will be easily overshadowed by the controversy.

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  41. Maria Pascarella

    I feel that disturbing and tasteless ads and images are the absolute wrong way to get attention and press coverage. Although these things can be effective, I don’t think they focus on the right aspects of the message they are trying to get across. Scare tactics can ultimately negatively impact the company itself and I feel it opens the door to loss of credibility. It’s similar to political campaigns that only attack the opposition rather than highlight a candidate’s merits and worth– that doesn’t make me want to vote for someone, or listen to an ad.

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  42. Kim Gray

    The PETA ad with the image of the baby with a chain around his/her neck is just very disturbing. Like you said, these organizations produce these ads to get our attention and reaction, indeed it works. But the attention and feedback they are receiving is negative. However, the tactics are very clever, because of the reactions, but yet still harmful and appalling. I still don’t believe these negative ads are more effective than positive ads. These distasteful ads only become controversial and therefore these organizations will lose the consumers support.

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  43. jessicaxxrebello

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a fan of Miley Cyrus. When I was younger, I used to watch her show, “Hannah Montana” on the Disney Channel all the time. I enjoyed watching her funny character on television and listening to her older songs about life, happiness, and love. Recently, her new image has made me not so much of a fan of hers anymore. I follow her twitter account and she tweets very strange things from time to time that are not tasteful to see. Personally, because her image has changed so much it has impacted the way I feel about her music. It has somewhat made me not like her songs as much as I enjoyed hearing her older ones when she didn’t appear to be so crazy. I honestly think its all an act that she’s putting on that has clearly been working for her to get a lot of media attention.
    I also do not like seeing disturbing ads or negative campaigns. Although they do attract the attention of most people, it isn’t in a way that some people such as myself, would like to see. When I see creepy or vulgar images on commercials or the Internet for example, I instantly change the screen because it is just not something that is appealing to me and I have no intentions of looking further into it.

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  44. akrame27

    After reading this post, I immediately began to think of the well-known commercial with Sarah Mclachlan asking to help fight against animal cruelty. While the purpose is to help stand up against a cause I cant help but often look away every time I see the graphic images of abused animals appear on the t.v screen. Often these disturbing ads are meant to have a strong message and leave an impression. Then again if the viewer feels that the ad crosses the line does not matter how important the message is, the channel has already been changed.

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  45. Nancy Haas

    A majority of people in today’s society have short attention spans, are easily distracted, and do not take action unless they feel very passionately about an issue. Unfortunately, everyday advertisements and news coverage on big stories rarely grab people’s attention. Thus, many companies and organizations are resorting to “shock and awe” tactics. Although these attempts to shock the general public create a “buzz”, they are in no way effective in the long run. Using vulgar ads and disturbing images will only make target audiences resent the company that is displaying them, rather than take action. Depending on the message that needs to get across, there must be other constructive ways of spreading the word and creating a positive reaction. Negative campaigns will make us notice for the moment, but eventually our short attention spans will wonder to the next “big thing.”

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  46. madalyntundis

    Personally, I don’t appreciate organizations making some kind of controversial statement or stance just to get people to talk about it or them. It’s kind of like the notion that all publicity is good publicity. I think people respect organizations that can make their point and get their messages across without causing an uproar from society. If your message has merit, people will talk about it, so be careful about how you deliver it.

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  47. VanessaV

    I am not a fan of these ads either. However, I’m not blind to see that the most shocking ads grab the most attention. While I agree with some of the commenters; who say that this is the advertisement’s job to gain attention; by shocking people. I wonder if they care about the public that was forced to see the graphic images and videos. Months ago, I saw this commercial of a pig being killed for food, which was paid for by PETA. I was so disgusted, that I stopped eating meat for about six months. But I am eating it now, so how effective was the commercial in the long run? Sure, they can keep putting out these ads but what happens when the public becomes less responsive to them. After a while everything grows old and things have to replace it. Like Madonna kissing Britney Spears 10 years ago at the VMA, was a big deal at the time, but now the public has moved on to Miley Cyrus and eventually her actions will be forgotten as well.

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  48. Steve Jellinek

    Whenever I think of PETA, I am reminded of the South Park episode “Douche and Turd”, which has a subplot where Stan is exiled from South Park for refusing to vote and is subsequently “adopted” by PETA. The episode satirizes PETA by showing them as very radical anti-human pro-animals even more so than they already are, to the point where one of their members even procreates with an ostrich. The point is that even though ads from companies such as PETA are intending to use shock-and-awe tactics to get us to notice their ideals, which works, but the methodology they use must be taken into account as perhaps too radical.

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  49. lschul9

    The fact that organizations like Generation Opportunity and PETA believe that it is ethically okay to produce this type of material is disturbing to me. I don’t think that many people will be persuaded to change their stance on issues based off of feelings of disgust after seeing the over-the-top advertisements you describe. Yes, they are meant to shock, but is that tactic really the most successful (and moral) one to use? You’re right in saying that audiences do take notice, but I’m inclined to believe that people would prefer to support an organization that is not so repulsive in its messages.

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  50. Will Martinez

    Some advertisements are so negative, violent or disturbing that instead of grabbing our attention, they turn it off. One advertisement I saw a few years ago, featured a father beating his son repeatedly, underlining the terrible conditions of domestic abuse. But instead of grabbing my attention, it caused me to turn the channel completely. One could argue that by me remembering the advertisement today, the company was successful. But I would argue that because the ad was so disturbing, I ignored the commercial’s message altogether.

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  51. Adriana Fitting

    Yes, these campaign styles simply flag the organizations as radicals. Mainstream audiences disregard the key points in the communications as these are muted by the outrageous statements. The shocking images and messages get noticed and perhaps are effective in provoking a reaction from the onlookers; however, they easily miss the point.

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  52. Richard Rocha

    Sometimes the shock effect gets the results that these companies are looking for. Some might want the audience to be just as appalled, other companies might just be happy that their campaign is receiving so much notoriety. The article mentions Miley Cyrus, and it is a similar publicity stunt. Even though it is a lot of negative press, she is the center of media right now. Sometimes it holds true that even negative press can be beneficial

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  53. Emily J DiLaura

    I could not agree more with you. I find these types of campaigns and forms of PR tasteless and upsetting. They take thing past extreme to degrading, sexist, disgusting, racist and many others. As a vegetarian, I am very aware of PETA and personally, although I appreciate the “save the animals” idea, I think their method is all wrong. Taking such an extreme position, in my opinion, will cause more negative commotion than anything. People may go against the campaigns even in spite. As much as I dislike this form of campaigning and getting the message across, it does exactly that. It gets the message across. It gets people talking and for that I tip my hat. For now I surrender.

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  54. Lyndi Catania

    These extreme campaign advertisements are definitely shocking. Although some are creepy and some go a little to far with comparing humans and animals, these ads have a point. These ads can be very offensive to many but these groups just feel that strongly about the situation. I personally haven’t seen these ads yet and they did cause me to feel sad and disturbed, which is exactly what they want. They expose us to the true horrors of that specific situation and sometimes the best way to do so is by comparing to something that is important to us, for example, family. I’m sure some people feel so horrible afterwards that they don’t consider that campaign at all anymore.

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  55. Zoe Hoffmann

    While we don’t always want to see these shocking ads, I personally think they are really quite effective. Even if the ads outrage us, anger us or are just plain weird, it gets people talking about that company or campaign. It might not always be the best strategy long term, but in the moment having a strange song or ad go viral is one of the best things a company can do for publicity. After Miley Cyrus’ recent debacle at the VMA’s and her equally strange music video that followed, she has been constantly in the media, discussed in articles and on tv and her music as a result has skyrocketed to the tope of the charts. These shocking ads are intended to shock and in an age of instantaneous sharing of information, I think they actually can be quite effective.
    After all, a lot of people say that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

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  56. Alexandra Cohen

    The campaigns and ads do grab our attention, but for how long. When I personally see these disturbing images, sometimes I can’t even look at them. It’s offending and people can take them the wrong way. These companies need to find a better way of connecting with the audience no matter what the message is or how strong it may be.

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  57. cmadsenpr

    I think using scare tactics can sometimes be a great way to get attention from the audience, but companies need to be very careful with how they go about this. Comparing a baby in a chain to a dog in a chain is a completely different situation so I don’t think that campaign necessarily needed to use a disturbing image to get their message across, but with more serious issues this is definitely a good tactic to use. Because of the images and content that we are exposed to in today’s society I think it would take a lot to really offend people by using these sort of images in a campaign, so even though it can sometimes be harsh, I think this could potentially be a good strategy to use. One thing that comes to my mind is the UK texting while driving PSA. It’s graphic and VERY sad, but it really got to me personally and it made me never want to text and drive again and tell all my family and friends to do the same. Scare tactics have a bigger impact when it comes to important issues.

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  58. Jordan Richmond

    It seems to be a double-edged sword. People who love them are going to eat up the campaign because of how daring it is, where people who aren’t crazy about PETA or TheHill.com are going to be turned off by it. It seems like it’ll further polarize people. In terms of generating a conversation, kudos to them for being able to make people notice them. In terms of effectiveness, we’ll see how they do.

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  59. Adria Marlowe

    While I’m not a fan of PETA’s latest campaign, I don’t believe these “over the top” messages are meant to win fans. If the point is to simply get people’s attention and, perhaps, start a conversation, then it looks like their strategy works. As competition for the public’s attention rises, organizations like PETA seem to be willing to take chances to get their cause noticed – with the prospect of being in the public eye outweighing the possibility of offending audiences or appearing extreme. I doubt people would continue to talk about PETA quite so much if they launched a softer, fact-based campaign, just as Miley might not have gained worldwide attention if it weren’t for her recent behavior.

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  60. rtyler2

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to be noticed because that is how you are going to get your message across but when an organization puts out a campaign that is negative or disturbing I do not think it is for the good of the organization. Getting your campaign or commercial viewed is important but the organization does want the public to talk about them because then the organization did their job of being noticed. These disturbing campaigns and commercials are leaving negative images of the organization in the public and I feel that an organization such as PETA would be better off if they put out a commercial that was more positive and would leave the public saying things that would benefit the organization rather then the public giving the organization a bad image.

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  61. Cody Dano

    When you really think about it, these ads accomplished exactly what their distributors desired. These ads, though controversial and over-the-top, grabbed everyones attention and kept it. Even if the ad had to be pulled, it still got everyone talking and in doing so, put the ad’s distributor in the forefront of the news.

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  62. Whitney Shepherd

    The point of putting out messages by political groups is to grab the peoples attention and get their message across. I agree that putting certain disturbing messages out for the public is effective. However, is it necessary? I believe there are so many other ways and outlets for a group to get their message out to people where it is tasteful and effective. The purpose of putting out highly disturbing messages is so that the media will talk about them and spread their thoughts to world. When I look at these messages posted all over the news and internet I try and put myself in the shoes of these groups putting the messages out there. From my own personal thoughts I think that if I was a group trying to get my message out to the world I would want something a little more positive and something that the people would back me up on.

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  63. Chelsey Fuller

    You can’t go wrong with wanting to draw the attention of a person by creating extremely dramatic campaigns but I feel like there has to be a line drawn somewhere. The new PETA campaign particularly bothers me. I understand that animal cruelty is beyond important but there has to be a better way of showing that than chaining up a baby! To me it just turns me away from the cause. These organizations need to rely on their facts and portray them in a much better way. Nothing is more effective than the truth, so just by showing that they can grab an audience’s attention. I know they want to get the word out but they need to find a better way of going about it because these campaigns are highly offensive.

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  64. jeremydbeck

    I believe that although these campaigns may be “over the top,” they are also the most effective in reaching audiences. Shock value is all that is left to really capture attention, since we exposed to so much media on a daily basis. Only things that shock us really make us stop and pay attention. These campaigns not only grab out attention they often have a high retention rate for the audience. These images will stay in the minds of the audience due to their shock value, and for a PR campaign that is ultimately the goal.

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  65. Max Eisenberg

    They certainly do get our attention and I have to say that in some cases, they are necessary. Sometimes people need things to shock them and scare them to realize the message or action that needs to be taken. However, I agree wholeheartedly that it hurts a lot of the organizations if their message is offending the people that are on the receiving end of these campaigns. As for organizations like PETA or others that are concerned with animal abuse, I believe shock value is an excellent tactic to get people to “wake up” and take action.

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  66. ij28

    This is very difficult to discuss because I’m not sure how I feel about these disturbing campaigns. In a way, having these advertisements and commercials do spark conversation in a good way. For example, I clicked to watch the video of obamacare and in the comments on youtube there are several people debating the topic. It’s good to make people talk because it’s important to get involved in what is happening in our world today; however, I do believe there could’ve been other methods to spark conversation without crossing the line. It’s the same thing for Miley Cyrus. Yes, she has people talking about her, which makes her popularity rise, but in the long run, people are going to be hating her more than liking her. I’m not sure if people or companies should be aiming for short term success.

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  67. croyal13

    I agree that many of these campaigns and ads are distasteful and do not belong in the public eye. However, they are effective at grabbing attention and making consumers remember the image. Although this may not be classiest method, it is certainly a powerful move. Unfortunately, really negative ads or overly positive ads are the ones that tend to stick in our minds. If you think of all the commercials that are so annoying you must change the channel, they still stick out in your head. You know the product they are advertising for and the name of the company will stay with you. I think this is the same tactic that Miley Cyrus used in her VMA performance her her new music video. The shock factor may have caused many negative responses, but it also grabbed a lot of attention and was talked about. It was the top viewed video in the entire world. Although ads are difficult to avoid, shocking performances will continue. If you don’t like it, you should probably just change the channel.

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  68. Nathalie Salazar

    Although negative ads such as the ones mentioned above do grab our attention, I don’t know about everyone else, but I find that they either make me feel very uncomfortable or incredibly sad that I end up just avoiding them. For example, PETA commercials or ads often make me want to cry when I see them (poor animals!) so I tend to avoid their website or anything PETA related (I’m so afraid of seeing something disturbing). Does that then make their campaigns effective? As for the negative political ads, I also know that they are obviously skewed and radical to the point where I don’t even listen to them. Therefore, I don’t find negative ads as effective as positive ads.

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  69. Joe Flanagan

    Professor, I do not reluctantly tip my hat, I confidently tip my hat. These groups achieve their messages, and they were able to achieve national recognition. Every major company or group has had national uproar over some of their messages. Look at McDonalds as an example. They had a commercial with two black men saying “For Free”. When they would show commercials bleeping “Free” to convey the message that ‘Free” is a word no one hears in our society anymore, so many groups came out saying that McDonalds was racist because it was two black men.
    After being in this course for several weeks, I am beginning to realize that positive image is not something that is obtained from positive messages by a company. Positive image, in my mind, is something that is obtained after a controversial action or message. It is how the company reacts to the response of their controversial message that allows a company or group to have a positive image.
    As public relations grows as a profession, I can see every group going through a phase of controversy. These messages that cause uproar and outrage are inevitable for every company. It will eventually be the “norm” of publicity.

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  70. Ariana Goldklang

    These organizations grab your attention quickly with their advertisements but in the wrong way. They have gone too far, putting such explicit things in ads doesn’t change people’s opinion. Stressing the good and the importance in campaigns is a better way to change someones attitude. When you cross the line you only offend people, you don’t usually get them on your side. There are better ways to grab the public’s attention and persuade them then offending and shocking people.

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  71. Sarah ElSayed

    As a long-time vegetarian, even I am offended by almost all of the advertisements that PETA puts out. Animals are a big part of most vegetarian’s lives, (and I do understand that a part of changing someone’s opinion is appealing to their deepest emotions,) but comparing something like eating meat to a massive genocide that involved people who are still living today is just unethical. I truly believe that there is a fine line between pathos and having a blatant lack of sensitivity.

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  72. Lauren Platt

    I agree that these organizations did a good job of getting us to notice but they went about it all wrong. They don’t realize who they could be offending and turning off of their organization because of an ad. I have seen many PETA ads before and I believe they cross the line more often than not. I understand that they have a strong message but they could make advertisements that are not as offensive to people.

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