WHAT FACTORS MAKE CONTROVERSIAL ADVERTISING OFFENSIVE?: A PRELIMINARY STUDY

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Abstract
While some advertisers have undertaken controversial advertising campaigns that have been very successful, some have been damaging to the company. This is particularly important for companies that have a controversial product, like condoms, feminine hygiene products and underwear. This paper presents some preliminary results of a survey of 150 people to determine whether they perceive particular sex/gender-related products as offensive, what are the reasons to find advertisements offensive and discover correlations to ascertain why certain products are perceived as offensive. The results, while preliminary, indicate some important issues for advertisers.
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WHAT FACTORS MAKE CONTROVERSIAL ADVERTISING OFFENSIVE?:
A PRELIMINARY STUDY
David S. Waller
School of Marketing
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
ABSTRACT
While some advertisers have undertaken controversial advertising campaigns that have been
very successful, some have been damaging to the company. This is particularly important for
companies that have a controversial product, like condoms, feminine hygiene products and
underwear. This paper presents some preliminary results of a survey of 150 people to determine
whether they perceive particular sex/gender-related products as offensive, what are the reasons
to find advertisements offensive and discover correlations to ascertain why certain products are
perceived as offensive. The results, while preliminary, indicate some important issues for
advertisers.
INTRODUCTION
As the amount of advertising increases, it would appear that there has been an increase in the
amount of controversial advertising shown in various media. Some of reasons for this include
that society has become more complex, increased awareness of the harmful effects of some
products and as agencies try to become more creative to "cut through the clutter" to gain
attention and brand awareness (Waller 1999). For advertisers the problem can be that a
controversial advertising campaign can be very successful or very damaging, depending on what
ultimately happens in the marketplace. For example, the clothing company Benetton has long
been criticized for its advertising which uses controversial images to send a message of "social
concern" (Evans and Sumandeep 1993), until the death-row campaign was felt o have gone too
far (Curtis 2002). Similar problems occurred to Calvin Klein who had been criticized for running
campaigns with explicit sexual images, but had to publicly apologize after the outrage caused by
a campaign that was alleged to use images of child pornography (Anon 1995; Irvine 2000). The
result of a controversial advertising campaign can, therefore, be offence that can lead to a number
of actions like negative publicity, attracting complaints to advertising regulatory bodies, falling
sales, and product boycotts Advertisers wanting to undertake a controversial campaign must,
therefore, then tread the fine line between successfully communicating to the marketplace and
offending some people.
The issue for some advertisers and their agencies is to determine who may be offended by their
controversial campaign and what are the reasons for offence, particularly when the product itself
may be controversial, eg condoms and feminine hygiene products. To some extent the
advertisers, particularly those with controversial products, have a social responsibility not to
offend people by their advertising images, yet in a free market they should be able to
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communicate a message to their customers. This paper presents some preliminary finding on a
study of controversial advertising and what are the underlying reasons for offence towards the
advertising of particular products. The objective is to determine types of people who are
offended and the areas of offence to assist advertisers in making better managerial decisions
when is comes to deciding on a controversial advertising strategy.
ADVERTISING OF CONTROVERSIAL PRODUCTS
Some advertisers, by the nature of the product, may be perceived as controversial and any
promotion of their product may generate negative responses, for example cigarettes, alcohol,
condoms or feminine hygiene products (Schuster and Powell 1987; Wilson and West 1995).
Previous studies in this area have mainly looked at these products in terms of the products being
"unmentionables" (Wilson and West 1981; Alter 1982; Katsanis 1994; Wilson and West 1995;
Spain 1997), "decent products" (Shao 1993) "socially sensitive products" (Shao and Hill 1994a;
Shao and Hill 1994b; Fahy, Smart, Pride and Ferrell 1995), and "controversial products"
(Rehman and Brooks 1987). Wilson and West (1981) defined "unmentionables" as: "... products,
services, or concepts that for reasons of delicacy, decency, morality, or even fear tend to elicit
reactions of distaste, disgust, offence, or outrage when mentioned or when openly presented"
(p92). This definition has since been supported by Triff, Benningfield and Murphy (1987),
Fahy, Smart, Pride and Ferrell (1995) and Waller (1999). Katsanis (1994) also added that
“unmentionables” were “offensive, embarrassing, harmful, socially unacceptable or
controversial to some significant segment of the population”.
Waller (2003) noted that most of the research has observed “controversial advertising” as a
negative concept, and if controversial advertising resulted in only negative responses
advertisers would shy away from this type of campaign. However, advertisers are not shying
away but using it in increasing numbers. The use of controversial images has been successful
for a number of organizations in the past (for example, Evans and Sumandeep 1993; Hornery
1996; Waller 1999; Irvine 2000; McIntyre 2000; Phau and Prendergast 2001). This is
particularly important when the reason for controversy is based on the nature of the product.
Various types of products, both goods and services, have been suggested by past studies as
being controversial when advertised, including cigarettes, alcohol, contraceptives, underwear,
and political advertising. Fam, Waller and Erdogan (2002) used factor analysis to generate four
groups:
(1) Gender/Sex Related Products (eg. condoms, female contraceptives, male/female
underwear, and feminine hygiene products);
(2) Social/Political Groups (eg. political parties, religious denominations, funeral
services, racially extreme groups, and guns and armaments);
(3) Addictive Products (eg. alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling); and
(4) Health and Care Products (eg. Charities, sexual diseases (AIDS, STD prevention),
and weight loss programs).
Previous studies have also used these products as examples of controversial products. Wilson
and West (1981), in their study of "unmentionables", included "products" such as personal
hygiene and birth control. Feminine Hygiene Products was the main focus of Rehman and
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Brooks (1987), but also included undergarments, alcohol, pregnancy tests, contraceptives,
medications, and VD services, as examples of controversial products. When asked about the
acceptability of various products being advertised on television, only two products were seen as
unacceptable by a sample of college students: contraceptives for men and contraceptives for
women. Feminine Hygiene Products has also been mentioned in industry articles as having
advertisements that are in “poor taste”, “irritating” and “most hated” (Alter 1982; Aaker and
Bruzzone 1985; Hume 1988; Rickard 1994).
Shao (1993) and Shao and Hill (1994a) analyzed advertising agency attitudes regarding various
issues, including the legal restrictions of advertising of "sensitive" products, which can be
controversial for the agency that handles the account. The products/services discussed in these
studies were cigarettes, alcohol, condoms, female hygiene products, female undergarments, male
undergarments, sexual diseases (eg STD's, AIDS), and pharmaceutical goods.
Barnes and Dotson (1990) discussed offensive television advertising and identified two different
dimensions: offensive products and offensive execution. The products which were in their list
included condoms, female hygiene products, female undergarments, and male undergarments.
Phau and Prendergast (2001) found that products like cigarettes, alcohol, condoms, female
contraceptives, and feminie hygiene products, were perceived as controversial products that
could offend when being advertised, but included in their study sexual connotations, subject too
personal, evoking unnecessary fear, cultural sensitivity, indecent language, sexist images and
nudity. Waller (1999) presented a list of 15 controversial product that aimed to range from
extremely offensive to not very offensive: Alcohol, Cigarettes, Condoms, Female
Contraceptives, Female Hygiene Products, Female Underwear, Funeral Services, Gambling,
Male Underwear, Pharmaceuticals, Political Parties, Racially Extremist Groups, Religious
Denominations, Sexual Diseases (AIDS, STD Prevention), and Weight Loss Programs. He also
included six reasons for offence: Indecent Language, Nudity, Sexist, Racist, Subject Too Personal
and Anti-social Behavior.
In relation to who is offended, Fahy, Smart, Pride and Ferrell (1995) while researching
advertising of "sensitive products", asked a sample of over 2000 people their attitudes towards
the advertising on certain products on television. The products were grouped into three main
categories: alcoholic beverages, products directed at children and health/sex-related products.
Comparing the attitudes according to sex, age, income, region, education and race, they found
that women, particularly aged 50 and over, had much higher disapproval levels for such
commercials. Waller (1999) compared gender and found females were significantly more
offended than males by the reasons for offence than the controversial products.
The products to be used in the analysis for this study are gender/sex-related products:
Condoms, Female Hygiene Products, Female Underwear, and Male Underwear. These were
chosen as it was felt that these products may generate a stronger response of “offensiveness”
with respondents. A larger number of reasons were given to give the respondents more choice
and determine more specifically reasons for offence.
METHODOLOGY
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To obtain a measure of attitudes towards advertising of controversial products, a questionnaire
was distributed to a convenience sample of students at a large urban university. The rationale for
using university students as subjects has been a research method practiced overseas for many
years, mainly for their accessibility to the researcher and homogeneity as a group (Calder,
Phillips and Tybout 1981). Student samples have already been used in controversial
advertising studies by Rehman and Brooks (1987), Tinkham and Weaver-Lariscy (1994) and
Waller (1999). The use of students in a potential cross-cultural comparison of attitudes has
other advantages as it is accepted that purposive samples, such as with students, are superior
than random samples for establishing equivalence, and it controls a source of variation, thus is
more likely to isolate any cultural differences if they exist (Dant and Barnes 1988; Ramaprasad
and Hasegawa 1992).
A total of 150 students studying were sampled (73 male and 77 female). The average age of the
total sample was 21.87 years old (21.68 male and 22.05 female) with ages ranging from 18 to 40
years old. For ease of analysis the respondents were categorized grouped into two age groups:
21 or less and 22+. The sample is made up of primarily second and third year students and the
questionnaire took approximately 10 minutes to complete and was administered in a classroom
environment. The main two sections of the questionnaire comprised of a five point Likert type
format from which respondents were given (i) a list of products/services and (ii) a list of reasons
for offensive advertising. The respondents were asked to indicate their level of personal
"offence" on a five point scale, where 1 means "Not At All" offensive and 5 means "Extremely"
offensive. The list of reasons expands Waller (1999) to include 11 items: Anti-social Behaviour,
Concern for Children, Hard Sell, Health & Safety Issues, Indecent Language, Nudity, Racist
Image, Sexist Image, Stereotyping of People, Subject Too Personal, and Violence
RESULTS
Offensiveness of Products
Firstly the respondents were presented with the list of products for which they indicated their
level of offence. With a midpoint of 3 on the Likert scale, none of the products were perceived to
be offensive, which may be due to the sample being primarily young people in a cosmopolitan
western city. It also confirms Waller (1999) results. Condoms were perceived to be most
offensive when advertised, followed by Feminine Hygiene Products, Men’s Underwear and
Women’s Underwear (Table 1). Comparing gender the females were more offended by Condoms
and Women’s Underwear advertisements than the males at the .10 level. There were no
significant differences between the two age groups f 21 or less and 22+.
TABLE 1: OFFENSIVENESS OF ADVERTISEMENTS FOR
CONTROVERSIAL PRODUCTS
PRODUCT TOTAL Males Females 21 or less 22+
Condoms 2.52
(1.27)
2.32
(1.18)
2.71 *
(1.32)
2.57
(1.28)
2.45
(1.22)
Feminine Hygiene Products 2.36 2.48 2.24 2.35 2.33
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(1.27) (1.27) (1.26) (1.32) (1.20)
Men’s Underwear 2.13
(1.18)
2.19
(1.25)
2.07
(1.11)
2.02
(1.18)
2.23
(1.18)
Women’s Underwear 2.04
(1.21)
1.86
(1.12)
2.21 *
(1.28)
1.97
(1.18)
2.12
(1.28)
Mean (Standard Deviation)
*p<.100
Reasons for Offensiveness
Next the respondents were presented with the list of reasons for advertising offensiveness for
which they indicated their level of offence. With a midpoint of 3 on the Likert scale, the total
sample indicated offence to all of reasons except Anti-social Behavior (Table 2). Although a few
reasons were claimed to be not offensive by males and the younger age group, but these were
generally just under the midpoint and so indicating more of an indifference. Comparing gender,
females were significantly more offended than males for Sexist Image, Violence, Stereotyping of
People, Subject Too Personal, Indecent Language and Nudity. This can be due to the fact that
women are often the objects of the sexism, stereotyping and nudity. Looking at age, the older
group was significantly more offended by advertisements with Violence, Hard sell, Concern for
Children, and Anti-social Behavior. This would indicate the older group being more conservative
and more concerned with things like child welfare and anti-violence.
TABLE 2: REASONS FOR OFFENSIVENESS
PRODUCT TOTAL Males Females 21 or
less
22+
Racist Image 4.32
(2.59)
4.51
(3.52)
4.14
(1.16)
4.37
(3.28)
4.24
(.94)
Sexist Image 3.60
(1.28)
3.16
(1.36)
4.01 **
(1.04)
3.64
(1.35)
3.53
(1.20)
Violence 3.55
(1.33)
3.16
(1.37)
3.91 **
(1.19)
3.28
(1.37)
3.97 **
(1.18)
Stereotyping of People 3.38
(1.12)
3.14
(1.18)
3.60 **
(1.03)
3.34
(1.14)
3.42
(1.13)
Hard Sell 3.24
(1.21)
3.37
(1.26)
3.11
(1.14)
2.99
(1.20)
3.59 **
(1.12)
Concern for Children 3.21
(1.41)
3.10
(1.42)
3.32
(1.40)
2.97
(1.42)
3.50 **
(1.35)
Subject Too Personal 3.13
(1.21)
2.84
(1.20)
3.42 **
(1.15)
3.09
(1.15)
3.19
(1.32)
Indecent Language 3.11
(1.23)
2.77
(1.24)
3.43 **
(1.14)
2.96
(1.28)
3.28
(1.14)
Nudity 3.06
(1.31)
2.64
(1.38)
3.45 **
(1.12)
3.00
(1.29)
3.10
(1.36)
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Health & Safety Issues 3.02
(1.35)
2.85
(1.34)
3.19
(1.34)
2.97
(1.32)
3.11
(1.40)
Anti-social Behaviour 2.94
(1.27)
2.92
(1.22)
2.96
(1.32)
2.71
(1.29)
3.30 **
(1.19)
*p<.020
Correlating Products and Reasons for Offence
To help determine what makes controversial advertising offensive, a correlation of the results
between the four controversial products and reasons for the offence was made using a
Spearman’s Correlation Coefficient (Table 3). Strong relationships (greater than 0.30) were
found between Condoms with Indecent Language, Nudity, Sexist Images and Subject Too
Personal; as well as Women’s Underwear and Nudity. Other significant relationships (p<.01)
were found with Feminine Hygiene Products and Hard Sell; Men’s Underwear with Anti-
social Behavior and Subject Too Personal; and Women’s Underwear with Indecent Language,
Sexist Image, Stereotyping of People and Subject Too Personal.
TABLE 3: CORRELATION OF RODUCTS AND REASONS FOR OFFENSIVENESS
PRODUCT Condoms Feminine
Hygiene
Products
Men’s
Underwear
Women’s
Underwear
Anti-social Behaviour .107
(.199)
.117
(.156)
.231 **
(.005)
.113
(.171)
Concern for Children .194 *
(.018)
.065
(.428)
.035
(.668)
-.005
(.948)
Hard Sell .083
(.327)
.242 **
(.004)
.120
(.155)
.156
(.063)
Health & Safety Issues .107
(.200)
.111
(.181)
.108
(.192)
.111
(.179)
Indecent Language .399 **
(.000)
.011
(.890)
.093
(.260)
.289 **
(.000)
Nudity .418 **
(.000)
.097
(.243)
.157
(.057)
.421 **
(.000)
Racist Image .168 *
(.042)
.073
(.374)
.016
(.844)
.113
(.171)
Sexist Image .307 **
(.000)
.148
(.071)
.075
(.360)
.271 **
(.001)
Stereotyping of People .171 *
(.038)
.071
(.391)
.151
(.067)
.219 **
(.008)
Subject Too Personal .434 **
(.000)
.207 *
(.011)
.266 **
(.001)
.240 **
(.003)
Violence .170 * -.007 .119 .098
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(.040) (.928) (.150) (.233)
Spearman’s Correlation Coefficient
(Sig. – 2-tailed)
* p<.05
** p<.01
CONCLUSION
Overall, it appears this study has shown that while those sampled indicated that they did not
feel particular controversial products were offensive when advertised, but they did find
particular reasons for advertisements being offensive. Therefore, the respondents perceive the
reasons given as more of an indication of why an advertisement is personally offensive than the
controversial products, which supports Waller (1999). Also there were significant differences in
the responses with gender being more of a determinant of offensiveness than age for indicating
offence, with women being more offended compared to the men’s responses.
To determine what makes controversial advertising offensive a correlation of the results
between the four controversial products and reasons for the offence was made using a
Spearman’s Correlation Coefficient with a number of relationships being indicated. In
particular strong relationships were found between Condoms with Indecent Language,
Nudity, Sexist Images and Subject Too Personal; as well as Women’s Underwear and Nudity.
For those involved with controversial products or controversial campaigns, it appears that they
should be aware of the potential to offend the public. Although some campaigns aim to be
controversial, care should be made to ensure that they are not Racist, Sexist, or have violent
images, particularly when targeting the female market. Offending the public can result in a drop
in sales or,
at an extreme, a boycotting of the product, which can then reflect poorly on the brand, the
company and the agency behind the campaign. Those companies with controversial products
should also be aware of what issues are the ones that offend their customers, and be socially
responsible enough to refrain from openly being offensive. For example, Condom manufacturers
should run advertisements that refrain from having indecent language, nudity, sexist images
and talking about the product too personally. However, it is still up to the advertiser to decide
on the right strategy for their controversial product.
Further research should be undertaken into attitudes towards controversial products and
offensive advertising. This could take the form of measuring levels of offensiveness towards
specific advertisements, comparing offensiveness with various demographics, such as age,
religion, personality, location, etc, and a cross-cultural comparison to determine if view hold
across different countries/cultures. From an advertiser’s view it is important to develop an
understanding of the relationship between their advertising messages and their customers, and
undertake some social responsibility for the messages being resented. The last thing an advertiser
would want to do is to offend its customers and cause a negative reaction in the marketplace.
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  • ... The increased use of controversial advertisements is primarily due to the fact that marketing with new ideas and unexpected elements can be effective in gaining more attention and awareness which results in increased profits (Dahl, Frankenberger, & Manchanda, 2003;De Run & Hairam, 2014;Maglajlic, Kalajdzic, Micevski, & Michaelidou, 2015;Waller, 1999). The use of such advertisements can be either very productive or destructive for a particular brand (Waller, 2004). Such advertisements must be used with extreme caution, not to offend people too much as it can lead to a number of unwanted reactions such as 'negative publicity, complaints to regulatory bodies, falling sales, and product boycotts' (Shukor, 2004;Waller, 2004). ...
    ... The use of such advertisements can be either very productive or destructive for a particular brand (Waller, 2004). Such advertisements must be used with extreme caution, not to offend people too much as it can lead to a number of unwanted reactions such as 'negative publicity, complaints to regulatory bodies, falling sales, and product boycotts' (Shukor, 2004;Waller, 2004). Controversial advertisements can offend the consumer segment(s) in the marketplace; nonetheless, the use of such advertisements has increased in last 20 years (Pope et al., 2004;. ...
    ... According to Bushman (2005), the real aim of advertisers is to advertise products in an effective way so as to convince consumers to purchase and adopt them. Waller (2004) defined controversial advertising as, 'either by type of product or execution which can elicit reactions of embarrassment, distaste, disgust, offense, or outrage from a segment of people when presented'. ...
  • ... The increased use of controversial advertisements is primarily due to the fact that marketing with new ideas and unexpected elements can be effective in gaining more attention and awareness which results in increased profits (Dahl, Frankenberger, & Manchanda, 2003;De Run & Hairam, 2014;Maglajlic, Kalajdzic, Micevski, & Michaelidou, 2015;Waller, 1999). The use of such advertisements can be either very productive or destructive for a particular brand (Waller, 2004). Such advertisements must be used with extreme caution, not to offend people too much as it can lead to a number of unwanted reactions such as 'negative publicity, complaints to regulatory bodies, falling sales, and product boycotts' (Shukor, 2004;Waller, 2004). ...
    ... The use of such advertisements can be either very productive or destructive for a particular brand (Waller, 2004). Such advertisements must be used with extreme caution, not to offend people too much as it can lead to a number of unwanted reactions such as 'negative publicity, complaints to regulatory bodies, falling sales, and product boycotts' (Shukor, 2004;Waller, 2004). Controversial advertisements can offend the consumer segment(s) in the marketplace; nonetheless, the use of such advertisements has increased in last 20 years (Pope et al., 2004;. ...
    ... According to Bushman (2005), the real aim of advertisers is to advertise products in an effective way so as to convince consumers to purchase and adopt them. Waller (2004) defined controversial advertising as, 'either by type of product or execution which can elicit reactions of embarrassment, distaste, disgust, offense, or outrage from a segment of people when presented'. ...
    Article
    Television commercials have been the main medium for advertising products/services/ideas to the masses. However, the use of controversial advertisements has shown a manyfold increase in the recent past. Controversial advertisements can be beneficial or harmful for the product; depending on how the target audience perceives them. Even though such advertisements may cause offense to a certain consumer group(s), but advertisers still don’t refrain from using such advertisements to market their or their clients’ product offerings in different segments namely products/services/ideas. Although the majority of research on consumer’s behaviour towards controversial advertisements has been reported from Western countries, very little is known in Asian perspective. In the present study, we attempted to analyze the Indian perspective of consumer’s attitude towards controversial television advertisements based on a survey of 609 respondents (312 males and 297 females). The results obtained indicated ‘political advertisements’ as the most controversial offering to be advertised on television. Consumers were found to be more offended with advertisements where ‘nudity’ was used as the main execution technique. Attitude of consumers towards controversial advertisements and their effect on purchasing behaviour were found clearly correlated to demographic variables including age, education and gender.
  • ... Controversial advertising can be defined as: ''advertising that, by the type of product or execution, can elicit reactions of embarrassment, distaste, disgust, offence, or outrage from a segment of the population when presented'' (Waller, 2004).Controversial advertising refers to the products that may harm the public moral, affect physicalhealth or considered socially indecent (e.g. using indecent language) and unmentionable in publicbecause they are offensive, embarrassing or publicly sensitive. Wilson & West (1981) brought out a description of what can be controversial: "products, services or concepts that for reasons of delicacy, decency, morality or even fear, tend to elicit reactions of distaste, disgust, offense, or outrage when mentioned or openly presented.". ...
    ... Some products, simply because of their nature, may be perceived as controversial or some members of the community may see the public promotion of them as offensive. However, apart from the general ethical issue regarding the deliberate use of controversial/offensive images for public viewing that may offend some people, it is important to determine attitudes towards offensive advertising (Waller &Fam, 2000).Controversial advertisements which cause a negative reaction, and thereby offence, can result in a number of actions like negative publicity, attracting complaints to advertising regulatory bodies, falling sales, and product boycotts (Fam& Waller, 2003) Paststudies on controversial advertising (Wilson andWest 1995, Waller (1999); Waller andFam, 2000, Waller et al., 2005)have suggested several products as being controversial when advertised, including cigarettes, alcohol, contraceptives, underwear,political advertising , female hygiene products, maleunder-wears, pharmaceutical goods, political parties, weight loss programs and sexual diseasesare all seen as controversial advertisements. ...
    ... Advertisements of controversial or socially sensitiveproducts can clash with the traditional and culturalvalues of a country, create negative impact in theminds of general public and damage the brand nameor image of the company (Waller et al.,2004) While the present study contributes new knowledge to the existing literature, it is not free from some limitations. ...
    Conference Paper
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    This study aims to explore the consumers' attitude towards promotion of controversial products, the reasons why they are controversial and how it is affected by the degree of religious commitment in Sudan. This study presents the results of an online survey of 134 Sudanese respondents to determine the type of products seen as controversial when advertised on TV and why are considered controversial.Research results revealed that in general Sudanese hold negative perception towards controversial product and their advertisements. The findings showed that the religious beliefs can potentially impact the perception of offensive advertising among Sudanese. However, Muslims of different levels of religious commitment show different degrees of offensiveness to controversial products advertising.These findings may have important implications for international marketers in countries with religious orientations such as Sudan, or other Muslim countries.
  • ... Controversial advertising is defined as using ''provocative images, words or situations that utilise or refer to taboo subjects or that violate societal norms or values'' (Huhmann and Mott-Stenerson 2008, p. 294). Controversial advertising can also include the advertising of 'taboo' or offensive products, such as cigarettes, alcohol or condoms (Phau and Prendergast 2001;Waller 2004). The debate over the merits of controversial advertising is still open and even though controversial advert campaigns are infrequently successful and most often cause negative associations with the brand (Berger 2001), such adverts are still largely used by advertisers for varied products and services (e.g. ...
    ... These include adverts involving controversial products (e.g. female hygiene products, undergarments) or controversial execution (Barnes and Dotson 1990;Waller 2004). In particular, according to Waller (2006), the creative execution used in an advert (even in the case where the product is not perceived as controversial) can lead to the advert being perceived as controversial. ...
    ... On the other hand, the use of sexual appeals as a creative execution method, may not necessarily lead to perceptions of controversy. For example, this is in the case where the product advertised is perceived to be 'sexual' in nature (but not controversial) and, hence, congruent with the theme of the advert (Boddewyn and Kunz 1991;Grazer and Keesling 1995;Pope et al. 2004;Waller 2004). Hence, controversy may occur at different levels (e.g. ...
    Article
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    This study attempts to advance knowledge in the area of controversial advertising by examining the antecedents and consequences of controversial advert perceptions in the context of social media, and particularly social networking sites (SNS). Specifically, we explore how ethical judgement and religious commitment shape controversial advert perceptions leading to attitudes towards the advert, brand attitudes and purchase intentions. Our results indicate that when a SNS advert is judged to be ethically acceptable, the level of perceived advert controversy is lower. However, the impact of ethical judgement on controversial advert perceptions becomes significant and positive when intrapersonal commitment and interpersonal religious commitment are introduced as moderators. This result implies that the level of religious commitment changes the ethical judgement–controversial advert perceptions relationship. The results also highlight that controversial advert perceptions negatively influence attitude towards the advert. The study contributes to the limited knowledge on controversial advertising on SNS, yielding significant and relevant implications for academics and advertisers alike, in their effort to improve advertising effectiveness without offending or alienating target audiences.
  • ... Some studied about sex appeal in advertising, some studied about advertising to children and minorities, some explored about advertising about harmful products and so forth. Waller (2004) in his study about controversial advertising, he found that subjects (respondents) claimed various offences to controversial advertising, for example cigarettes, alcohol, condoms or feminine hygiene products (Schuster and Powell 1987;Wilson and West 1995). Previous studies in this area have mainly looked at these products in terms of the products being "unmentionables" (Wilson and West 1981;Alter 1982;Katsanis 1994; Wilson and West 1995), "decent products" (Shao 1993) "socially sensitive products" (Shao and Hill 1994a; Shao and Hill 1994b; Fahy, Smart, Pride and Ferrell 1995), and "controversial products" (Rehman and Brooks 1987). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    In the field of marketing, branding has been around for centuries as a means to distinguish the goods of one producer from those of another. In building brands, there are many factors which contribute. Integrated communication plays a key role among them in this regard. Advertising is the main component of the integrated force which falls into criticisms always. Why it falls into criticisms always? Because, in the present context, public is more concerned about how business activities are done. Public do concern about the ethical aspects of the business activities. Therefore, this empirical research study attempted to search the impact of ethical advertising on building a positive brand image for food and beverages (With special reference to food and beverage in Sri Lanka). For the research study 08 objectives and 06 hypotheses were formulated. All hypotheses were proved and they say that there are positive relationships between Legality, decency, Honesty, Truthfulness and Social Responsibility of an advertisement and positive brand image of food and beverage. And further, the research proved that there is a positive relationship between occupation and legality of an advertisement and there is positive relationship between occupation and decency of an advertisement. Further, results indicated that there is a strong positive perception regarding ethical advertising. Further to state, it could be concluded that respondents who are the viewers of advertisements are highly concerned about ethics of advertising though there is no proper framework to monitor ethics in advertising in the country.
  • ... Some studied about sex appeal in advertising, some studied about advertising to children and minorities, some explored about advertising about harmful products and so forth. Waller (2004) in his study about controversial advertising, he found that subjects (respondents) claimed various offences to controversial advertising, for example cigarettes, alcohol, condoms or feminine hygiene products ( Schuster and Powell 1987;Wilson and West 1995). Previous studies in this area have mainly looked at these products in terms of the products being "unmentionables" (Wilson and West 1981;Alter 1982;Katsanis 1994;Wilson and West 1995), "decent products" (Shao 1993) "socially sensitive products" (Shao and Hill 1994a;Shao and Hill 1994b;Fahy, Smart, Pride and Ferrell 1995), and "controversial products" (Rehman and Brooks 1987). ...
    Research
    In the field of marketing, branding has been around for centuries as a means to distinguish the goods of one producer from those of another. In building brands, there are many factors which contribute. Integrated communication plays a key role among them in this regard. Advertising is the main component of the integrated force which falls into criticisms always. Why it falls into criticisms always? Because, in the present context, public is more concerned about how business activities are done. Public do concern about the ethical aspects of the business activities. Therefore, this empirical research study attempted to search the impact of ethical advertising on building a positive brand image for food and beverages (With special reference to food and beverage in Sri Lanka). For the research study 08 objectives and 06 hypotheses were formulated. All hypotheses were proved and they say that there are positive relationships between Legality, decency, Honesty, Truthfulness and Social Responsibility of an advertisement and positive brand image of food and beverage. And further, the research proved that there is a positive relationship between occupation and legality of an advertisement and there is positive relationship between occupation and decency of an advertisement. Further, results indicated that there is a strong positive perception regarding ethical advertising. Further to state, it could be concluded that respondents who are the viewers of advertisements are highly concerned about ethics of advertising though there is no proper framework to monitor ethics in advertising in the country.
  • ... animal/plant) in order to downgrade people through the attribution of animal or plant characteristics, while enhancing the positive image of animals and plants through the opposite process. The function of the metonymy in each of the 1 The research on which this paper is based is supported by a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship " EMMA-658079 " (European Commission) and by the national project FFI2013-43593-P (Ministry of Innovation and Competitiveness, Spain). 2 Common topics in shockvertising are, according to Waller (2004), urging drivers to use their seatbelts, promoting STD prevention, bringing awareness of racism and other injustices, or discouraging smoking among teens. clac 65/2016, 257-290 perez-sobrino: shockvertising 260 advertisements under consideration is to develop a specific situational scenario to the extent required for the more general GREAT CHAIN metaphor to be possible. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    This paper explores the conceptual scaffolding of six shockvertisements raising awareness on environmental preservation. The analysis shows that advertisers make use of a finite set of cognitive operations (metaphor in interaction with metonymy) to downgrade people through the attribution of animal or plant characteristics and to enhance animals and plants through the opposite process. The simple and universal nature of these mappings, in which 'defenselessness' emerges as the quintessential attribute common to people, animals, and plants, assures advertisers that their message will be interpreted straightforwardly and almost effortlessly by viewers of different countries and cultural backgrounds (yet with some variation in the degree of communicative impact).
  • ... According to Waller (2003), if AOCP resulted in only negative responses, advertisers would 'shy away' from this type of campaign. However, advertisers are not shying away and using it in increasing numbers (Waller, 2004). Some studies reveal that the AOCP has been successful for a number of organizations as well (see, Evans & Sumandeep, 1993; Waller, 1999). ...
    Article
    The present study sheds some light on the issue pertaining to the influence of religious faith on marketing communication strategy. More particularly, this study attempts to answer two research questions: (i) how Malaysian consumers perceive controversial product? And (ii) what is their perception, attitude and behavioral feelings towards advertisement of the controversial products from the religious perspective? The qualitative approach has been taken to achieve the research objectives. Twenty-two in-depth interviews have been conducted on students of a reputable public university in Malaysia. It is revealed that, health conscious consumers as well as consumer with small child hold negative perception towards controversial product and its advertisement. It is also understood that, Muslim consumers are more reluctant towards such products and their advertisement compare to other consumers. Implications, limitations and future research directions are also discussed at the end of the article.
  • Chapter
    The aim of this research is first to compare and examine the effectiveness of an emotional, shock and humour advertising strategies in terms of brand recall, image and attitudes towards the advertisement and purchase intentions towards the brand, secondly to determine the moderating effects of generation Y on these three types of advertisements, and, lastly, to provide marketers with a better understanding of the effectiveness of the three types of advertisements and emphasize the importance of alternative methods of breaking through the advertising clutter and to measure the impact of the different types of advertisement, six advertisements from each of the three categories, i.e. shock, humour and emotional are shortlisted and linked together. These advertisements (18 in total) are then shown to respondents. Respondents recorded their views in the questionnaire. A total of 345 respondents participated in this study. Brand recall is high in both emotional and humorous ads, but the purchase intention is high in emotional advertisement in Eastern culture. Type of product should influence the advertising approach in the promotion of a brand.
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    Full-text available
    This paper explores the conceptual scaffolding of six shockvertisements raising awareness on environmental preservation. The analysis shows that advertisers make use of a finite set of cognitive operations (metaphor in interaction with metonymy) to downgrade people through the attribution of animal or plant characteristics and to enhance animals and plants through the opposite process. The simple and universal nature of these mappings, in which 'defenselessness' emerges as the quintessential attribute common to people, animals, and plants, assures advertisers that their message will be interpreted straightforwardly and almost effortlessly by viewers of different countries and cultural backgrounds (yet with some variation in the degree of communicative impact).
  • Article
    This article examines a number of images used by the Benetton company in advertising campaigns throughout Europe. It discusses some of the reasons why different reactions to the advertisements may occur, and then uses the images to examine the different interpretations which groups from Britain, France, Norway and Germany have placed on the images. The results show that there is often a significant difference in the interpreted meaning of the images by the four sample groups. The article concludes that advertisers need to be more aware that the message that they believe is being transmitted may not be the one that is received, and that the addition of text/language may be needed to lead the receiver to the intended meaning. In the last few years a number of the Benetton advertisements have at times caused a public outcry in the UK. These same images have not provoked the same negative feelings across other European countries. This article explores why such different reactions can exist and examines if the images used by Benetton are interpreted the same by four European nationalities.
  • Article
    Prior literature regarding offensive advertising relates mainly to western cultures. No work has been done on this area in an Asian context. The research in this article reports on a survey of Singaporean consumers. The survey aimed to identify what types of products and appeals consumers find offensive in advertising, the reasons why they find the advertisements offensive, and how this offensive advertising may affect their purchase intentions. The results found that advertisements relating to chat-line services and sexual diseases were the most offensive, followed by advertisements for dating services. Levels of offensiveness were clearly related to demographic variables such as gender and age. In terms of reasons for offensiveness, consumers were most concerned by advertisements that had a sexual connotation or evoked unnecessary fear.Levels of offensiveness also affected purchase intentions. Based on the results, the article recommends that advertisers and their agencies should think more carefully about the demographic profile of their audiences, how this profile might impact their audiences „sensitivity“ to potentially offensive advertising, and how this sensitivity should be used as a guide when making media and message decisions
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    Sixteen copy characteristics or advertising approaches that appear to either increase or decrease irritation emerge from a study of 524 television commercials. The results also show how irritation levels vary by product class and by socioeconomic level. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Journal of Marketing is the property of American Marketing Association and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)
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    In a constantly changing and increasingly globalized world, religion still plays a significant role in influencing social and consumer behavior. This study will analyze what influence religion and intensity of belief has on attitudes towards the advertising of particular controversial products and services. A questionnaire was distributed to 1,393 people across six different countries and resulting in samples of four main religious groups. The results indicated some statistically significant differences between the groups, which can have important implications for global marketers.