The Shock Value in Advertising

**Trigger Warning**

A new campaign by a British organization called This is Abuse attempts to tackle issues of abuse, rape, and assault in relationships.  The website offers a variety of resources including, myths about rape, how to know if you’re being abused, how to know if you are abusive, and how to get help.  It really is a well done campaign.

The thing that has attracted the most attention though is their ads.  I even heard a morning talk show talking about the campaign ads while I was at work.  The show was discussing how far is too far and if these particular ads cross the line.  Below is the first ad I saw titled “If You Could See Yourself.”  The idea is that if you were an outsider and could see yourself would you call it rape.  It focuses on the fact that the majority of people who are raped are done so by a trusted friend, family member, co-worker etc., not by a stranger.  Please be aware that the video may be triggering and it is difficult to watch.

The first time I saw this ad I couldn’t help but cringe.  It stirred up terrible emotions inside of me.  But then I remember thinking how powerful it could be.  Not everyone who rapes another person would later regret it or recognize their actions as rape.  But bringing awareness to the fact that pressuring someone into sex that doesn’t want it is not consensual and therefore is rape.  It is not always recognized that way.  The word rape is scary and something that happens to other people.  People do not always think about the fact that rape can happen in loving relationships.  It can happen in a committed relationship where two people are dating.  It can happen in a marriage.  That is why I think these ads are a good thing.

The morning show I saw was talking about using the “shock value” in advertising.  They were saying that this particular ad bordered on going too far and just wanted to shock people to get them to watch it.  While it is true that we are becoming desensitized to violence and it takes more and more to shock us, I do not agree that this is the case with these ads.  Rape and sexual assault are shocking and rightly so.  The fact that it happens at all should shock people.  If we become complacent about this we lose an important piece of our humanity.  Sure, maybe little children should not be allowed to watch it but teenagers who are just starting to date need to know that pushing someone beyond what they are comfortable with is not okay.  Of course, it is not only teenagers but it is a place to start.  I almost think that something like this would be good to show in schools as part of the sex education curriculum.  Granted I do not have children so I do not know if I would feel differently if I did.  Those of you that do have kids what are your thoughts?  Is this ad too shocking and did they go too far?

Here is the second ad that deals with abusive relationships.

This is Abuse

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One thought on “The Shock Value in Advertising

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