Shock Advertising: Is it Effective for Nonprofits?

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Rivera, Lora
Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology
Because nonprofits rely on support from the public, they have had to find creative ways to compete for attention and dollars. Shock advertising has been used to grab the attention of the public and get their messages noticed. Opinions vary, however, on whether shock is a legitimate creative technique or a gratuitous attention-grabbing gimmick (Dahl et al, 2003). Because the activity of most nonprofit organizations is of a pro-social nature, the controversial nature of shock advertisements has come under fire. Shock campaigns are risky. These campaigns may not portray the values and ideals of the individual organization or the sector at large. This study finds that shock campaigns are an effective advertisement tool for nonprofit organizations. To give the study local relevance, nonprofit agencies in the Wabash Valley were surveyed to determine if shock campaigns have been effective in the local community.