Shock Tactics: PR Genius?

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31 May Shock Tactics: PR Genius?

Encouraging Debate

Two years ago, Protein World’s Marketing Manager, Richard Staveley, sparked a global social media storm with its “Are you beach ready?” campaign, with people accusing the company of sexism and body shaming. Fast track to today and the marketer has launched a new campaign for V24, a 60ml protein drink, with adverts showing a blonde woman in a black crop top, exposing her stomach next to just two words – “Think Small”.

Prompting a fresh round of Twitter backlash, Staveley has done it again, with people calling for the adverts to be banned, labelling them “damaging” and encouraging eating disorders.
Staveley clearly has a knack for shock tactics, and it’s working – whatever your thoughts about the ads, the campaign has been shared thousands of times across social media, prompting discussion and argument. It has all the key ingredients of a good campaign, and arguably Staveley could be labelled a PR genius, with the original Kim Kardashian Protein World ad still be talked about two years later – it doesn’t get better than that.

V24 responded to the social media storm by simply saying the ad focuses on the size of the drink, not the model. Have we just become too politically correct? The advert shows a fitness model, but not one who is by any means unhealthy, it is simply showing another body type.

When a curvy or plus size model is slapped across TV ads and magazines, they are hailed as the ‘true woman’, but there are millions of women who have a six pack, work out regularly and drink protein. Everybody is different, and that arguably needs to be correctly represented in the media.

Shocked into action

Shocking audiences is an age-old PR and advertising tactic, and one which is being used more as the media world becomes more saturated – bigger brands need to stand out if they want you to remember them when you are walking down a shopping aisle.

Shocking audiences can help brands to get their message across quickly, and if part of an integrated campaign can get a big response. While it may not always be positive, there is no denying that it can help to put a company on the map and after Protein World’s Beach Body ad, sales increased by £1million.

But, shock tactics can only get a business so far, and while it may help to build awareness of a brand overnight, more work needs to be done to build a relationship with audiences, developing messages, to encourage long term behaviour change. Nobody likes being preached to, and by encouraging positive engagement with relevant messages over time, audiences can embrace and become part of a brand’s journey – maybe not overnight, but didn’t the turtle beat the hare?

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