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Shock Tactics: Worth The Risk?
Grabbing attention is definitely crucial within marketing – but should it be achieved however possible?

‘Shockvertising’ typically reaches its target audience using humour, sex or fear. The reward is awareness; the risk is alienation. Ultimately, it isn’t down to you to decide, but or your audience and the Advertising Standards Authority.  It’s been officially stating where ‘the line’ of decency exists for 50 years.

Incurring the wrath of the Advertising Standards Authority, (ASA), can result in expensive retractions and amendments. Some marketers believe that the headlines achieved in doing so are worth it. But be warned – controversy is a dangerous game.

The ASA is the first port of call for the public – and your competitors – if your adverts are deemed inaccurate or downright offensive. You may remember the controversial Benetton adverts of the 1990s, featuring the traditional taboos of war, racism and disease amongst other topics. They incited a negative backlash towards the brand.

At the other end of the scale, we’ve seen French Connection’s FCUK logo achieve success within controversy, as did Powwownow’s tongue-in-cheek banker character Cecil. (However his image was defaced on posters in tube stations as ‘his’ attitude was deemed offensive.)

We’ve seen charities spark fury by using 9/11 (Tsunami donations) and the Pope (condom advert) to raise awareness for their own cause. ASA research shows that 80% of the public believe that charities use shock  tactics. Ultimately it’s your audience’s view that counts. Prostate Cancer Charity receives 45% better donation levels in response to a positive message.

So, throughout its 50 year history, which advert has been most complained about? Did it feature sex, fear, racism? No.

Topping the list of complaints is the Kentucky Fried Chicken TV advert featuring call centre workers singing whilst eating. It seems that manners still matter to the British and that humour appears to be the most controversial element of all.

Are you thinking of a theme for your marketing communications? If you would like any advice please contact us – we’re here to help.
Advertising on Twitter
Advertising on Twitter has recently been extended to include those of us in the UK. There are two key choices involved: promoted tweets and promoted accounts.

1. Promoted Tweets
Why use Promoted Tweets?
  • Increased coverage for your strongest messages or special offers
  • For driving visitors to your website
  • More engagement within Twitter
Promoted tweets appear within timelines and at the top of the relevant search results shown within Twitter. (In this way, it’s a similar format to Pay Per Click.) Twitter assesses the interests and content within a timeline when deciding where to include your promoted tweet.

With internet searches, users often disregard ‘sponsored’ positions. This is less apparent within Twitter – so far. Promoted tweets will only appear within Twitter timelines if content is deemed relevant to the account. So… how you target your campaign is vital.

People can engage with a promoted tweet exactly as they would with a regular tweet, (retweet, reply, favourite etc.).

2. Promoted Accounts
Why become a Promoted Account?
  • Collect extra followers, fast
  • Creating longer term engagement and reach for activity
Promoted accounts are the suggestions of ‘who to follow’ which appear on the left side of the home screen. You’ll now see promoted accounts as well as suggestions naturally found by Twitter.

You can target new followers by keywords, interests and usernames. Twitter will prompt you for via a series of choices. If you choose a user name (@username), Twitter will analyse this username’s followers looking at who they are and what interests those people have in common. This route can be handy if you know the @username of an influential person within your market or maybe that of a key competitor.
Both routes include options on expenditure, location and gender. Good news for well- targeted campaigns. Excellent news for capping your budget! Plus – you only pay if someone engages with your promoted tweet, or follows you as a promoted account.

Whichever route you choose, ensure that the interests/accounts involved are aligned to your Twitter content. In other words, attract potential followers who will be genuinely interested in your tweets – and in you.  

Users cannot stop promoted tweets and accounts from appearing within their Twitter session. By promoting tweets and accounts based upon relevance, Twitter is hoping that this will not cause an adverse reaction amongst users.

The rules may change based upon user experience, feedback... and shareholder pressure. Rumours are rife that Twitter will lose its 140 character limit in order to entice advertisers now that it has shareholders to please and answer to. Watch this space!

If you would like to explore Twitter advertising, start using Twitter or help with content for social media, please contact us. Plus - you could always follow us on Twitter!