Shock Value: Ads That Stick

Why is it that commercials with the greatest shock value, leave such impressions on us? Well, my friends, it is all about strategy. The anti-smoking ads tend to hit us the hardest. When advertisements are given context then we are presented with a relatable idea. A good commercial will pull you in, ensuring that you will not forget the core message. The commercial I included below, has caused quite a stir in the advertising world. It was sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which has started a $115 million campaign against smoking. I have spoken with some of my colleagues about the ad and the overall sentiment is negative. They talk about how much they despise the clip, and how they have to step away from the screen when it’s aired.

Arguably, the advertisement has been rather successful because of its ability to invoke such emotion, negative or otherwise. The clip does not sit well with us because the young girl literally peels off her skin, a rather graphic image that we were not expecting. The horrific image leaves viewers disgusted and confused. Yet then we realize, although it is exaggerated, the depiction is not far from the truth. Smoking will cause health problems and by directly associating them with cigarettes, the FDA sends their core message loud and clear! Don’t smoke or  this will be you! 

The commercial carries so much weight because it shows viewers the impacts of smoking and provides us with imagery that we cannot erase.  The take away message is that you do not want to end up like the girl peeling off her skin. The motto from “Monster’s Inc.” comes to mind: “We scare because we care.” The purpose of this anti-smoking campaign is to instill fear in us and to stop us from smoking to our demise.

Do you think it was successful?











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