Shockvertising: Should I add more shock value to my advertising?

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Advertisements have always been present in everyday life. These come in a variety of forms such as big billboards plastered in the urban city, flyers handed out by enthusiastic salesmen, and even in YouTube clips that everyone would gladly skip ahead. 

However, living in a fast-paced world means not a lot of people have enough patience to stop and watch a typical and boring advertisement. The forgetfulness and impatience of consumers are the two most challenging traits that businesses have to deal with whenever they brainstorm on any promotional material. It is indeed difficult to come up with an advertisement that can create an impact in every consumers’ lives. However, there are two ways you can build a strong “shock value” and appealing advertisement: emotional marketing, creative imagery, and simplicity.

Emotional Marketing

Emotional advertising is about connecting and forming a deep relationship with the brand and audience through the power of emotions. Everyone can be a slave of their own emotions whether they like it or not; it is what makes us human. Studies show that a person’s most vivid memories come from strong emotional experiences. It is inevitable to have these memories resurface consciously or unconsciously through events and other triggers. Additionally, according to advertising research, emotions are what motivates customers to buy a product. They would always think how it would benefit them personally and what feelings it would emit to their peers. An emotional advertisement mostly focuses on one emotion such as happiness, sadness, anger, self-esteem, disgust, and fear. Some examples of these advertisements are Nike’s Never Far too Down campaign and Jollibee’s Kwentong Jollibee video series.

Aside from its shoes and other products, Nike has become famous for its inspirational and emotional-tugging advertisements. It is worth remembering because it inspires their consumers to never give up and push through hardships. Nike’s Never Far too Down series gave consumers a glimpse of the pain and happiness that famous athletes such as LeBron James and Serena Williams had to endure during their competitions such as the pain of disappointing people and their own expectations, and the happiness of rising above these hardships. The campaign motivates its audience to break through their struggles and continue moving forward while pertaining to how every hardship is a bittersweet pill that is a catalyst for change.

Whether it is about friendships, romantic relationships, and family, the Kwentong Jollibee series is another emotional campaign that tugs on everyone’s heartstrings. Although each video spans from 4-6 minutes, it is one of the very few advertisements that lingers in the minds of its consumers. 

One technique that this advertisement uses is empathy advertising. This type of advertisement revolves around the consumer instead of the product. It is about why they should buy the product and not what the product is all about. In this case, Jollibee shows their audience that their food would bring them good memories, rekindle friendships, and strengthen relationships by deducing from their relatable content. 

Creative Imagery

Humans have been accustomed to understanding images since the start of time. In fact, cavemen used images called petroglyphs, the art of creating different images in rocks as a way of communication. People have a better understanding of images rather than texts because their brains are programmed to think in images. In a similar context, what consumers read is translated into pictures as the information is being processed in their brains. 

Neuroscientists from MIT revealed that the human brain can process a whole image for as fast as 13 milliseconds. The brain thinks faster in image rather than texts, which explains why some people prefer watching videos than reading a book. Imagery plays a vital role in expressing the message and meaning behind every brand as well as it can emit automatic reflex responses whenever it engages the audience’s thought processes. It is also the first element noticed by the audience before skimming over the given content. 

An imagery may make or break the advertisement depending on the compatibility between it and the context of the ad. It is the gateway for consumers to express their ideas, thoughts, and perceptions of the brand. The image above is a great example of creative imagery. Through the use of the gestalt principle—the clever use of positive and negative space to form illusional images—the ad above successfully portrayed its message to the audience. It is a simple but brilliant way of showcasing the importance of seeking help when it comes to mental illnesses.


Simplicity plays a big factor in creating a memorable advertisement. Most people do not have the time to ponder on trivial matters due to their busy schedule. Studies show that people prefer to purchase products with simple and minimal designs because they are easier to decipher and remember. The goal of your advertisement is to be remembered and understood by your targeted audience in a short amount of time. A brand’s consumers do not have to put effort in remembering an advertisement at all since this comes naturally. This will also serve as a success indicator for your advertisements. There are many brands that apply simplicity in their advertisements.

KitKat’s advertisements are the ideal example of simplicity since it is concise and easy to follow. These advertisements are very vital in society where the “grind culture” is becoming the norm because they serve as a reminder for their consumers to take a breather and learn to enjoy the simple things in life.  Through its striking advertisements, KitKat does not only serve as a delicious snack but as a symbol of enjoyment and companionship as well, and all it took to make these brilliant advertisements is a simple logo, delicious product, and a catchy slogan.

Overall, these elements should work together to formulate a meaningful advertisement.  An imagery would be unsuccessful if it does not target the emotions that a brand yearns to project. On the other hand, it is best to keep in mind the type of emotion you want to derive from your target audience as it is a reflection of your brand. With the correct tools and techniques, every business can achieve a brilliant advertisement.

Looking to up your company’s content marketing strategies? Schedule a FREE 20-min. consultation with Ambidextr today in our Calendly link:

Visual by: Chloe Gaw

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