Beverly B. Media and Communications

Is There Value in Shock Value?

By Beverly B. Media and Communications

Now that the dust has settled and every news outlet has covered the Time Magazine story we can sit back and discuss the bigger picture—pun intended—did the stunt work?

Yes I called it a stunt, it is no coincidence that the week before mother’s day Time Magazine’s cover story called Are You Mom Enough? with a picture of a mother breast feeding her three-year-old son hits newsstands and air waves. The cover provided a triple threat of topics to choose from. A breast feeding toddler on the cover had many asking did Time go too far? Is this art or is it soft porn? The title Are You Mom Enough? is like using a stick to poke a sleeping bear, the topic of motherhood and are mom’s doing enough for their children is a very sensitive one and it is one that is guaranteed to stir up discussion. And once you’ve made it past the cover the topic itself is one that will keep you reading. It is no surprise that in the day of reality television anything goes and the public’s threshold for shock is growing higher and higher, But Is there value in shock value?

If done correctly shock value will garner much attention, much talk, and a number of polls rating how the public feels about the issue. People may be angry at you for the moment but not enough to take their business away, but shock value is a dangerous game to play and is not for the faint of heart, it can easily go wrong. The story can quickly become about you instead of the issue or the product.

Earlier this year an ad campaign in Georgia tried to use shock value to help fight Childhood obesity, however the organization—Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta—just came across as big bullies picking on the fat kid on the play ground. The story focused more on the bad taste of the campaign instead of the fact that Georgia has the second highest rate of childhood obesity. A very important topic was lost in the controversy.

I for one don’t like to have my emotions toyed with, however shock value marketing does make for interesting discussions and isn’t that the point?


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