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How to Design Effective ‘Shock Ads’

Mike Krass • May 22, 2012 • 2 minutes to read

In a recent iMedia Connection article, ROI DNA's VP of Branding Jim Nichols took a look at 9 different brands that used shock ads.

The brands included:

  • Meth Project (photo above)
  • Super PAC
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Groupon
  • Top Chef
  • Sisley
  • L'Oreal Dermablend
  • Benetton
  • Febreze After grading each brands ad on a Win / Lose scale, Nichols made the following conclusions about how to create effective shock ads.

Viscerally connect with and celebrate the lifestyle and values of the user

Sisley does that well, and stands out because its message is anathema to people who "don't get it." Similarly, Benetton speaks to an emerging set of values most common among young tastemakers.

Depict more relatable situations and drama

These are things that people can envision. The meth ads, like the example above, do this really well; we all know that the dire straits they depict actually happen.

Direct emotional reactions to a clear set of action steps that tell us what we should do now that we are all fired up

Febreze wins here.

They go easy on complex analogies

Very few people study ads, so their meaning needs to be immediately accessible. The Dermablend message shows an incredible demonstration with a strong impact. There's visual proof of the products effectiveness.

Go check out the examples mentioned above by clicking this link

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