Here is a few examples of adverts that slipped the net during their time (courtesy of boredpanda). Wouldn’t sneak these past the ASA in this day and age, but you’d be surprised how often those cheeky marketing scamps will try. According to TV Licensing there were 24,963,799 licensed televisions in the UK in 2010. It’s a great way for companies to penetrate the home and expose their message to us all. However, there is a responsibility (despite the debate about where the responsibility lies) to monitor what eventually ends up on our Technicolor screens. Think of the children! Using the social learning theory as a basis, it could be said that advertising contributes to what is perceived as “normal activity” in our society (Bandura 1986, Grube, 1995). You may be surprised to find out that after a 58 year ban on alcohol ads in Saskatchewan, consumption of wine and beer actually dropped significantly (Makowsky & Whitehead, 1991). So is banning adverts actually effective? It’s often not long until they end up thrown all over the internet anyway. What effect does banning an ad actually have?
Taking A Closer Look…
The mere exposure effect states, that simple repeated exposure to a neutral stimulus that is not consciously perceived can lead to increased liking of such stimuli: we ignore adverts everyday, it doesn’t mean they are not working (Bornstien, 1992). You may have heard of the mere exposure effect before, if you haven’t lucky you! The logical solution to saving our children’s impressionable brains then is simply to reduce this exposure by banning inappropriate adverts, yes? No, unfortunately the evidence suggests that bans on alcohol ads (broadcast) may even increase consumption (Young, 1993).
Here is one theory of what might be going on here…
“Indeed, advertising may increase product differentiation and/or signal product quality, resulting in higher equilibrium prices and lower
consumption.” (Nelson & Young, 2001).
In an attempt to make that clearer, banning one product (lets say Dave’s Whiskey) decreases its exposure causing it to be more differentiated. Popular products that are bought more frequently (WKDs) may drop in price to match the demand, meaning the less exposed product is more expensive, appealing to those with upper class tastes (Ambler, 2008).
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is an incredibly effective tool for companies but it is often discussed in regards to post-consumption evaluation (worth reading up on). Banning adverts means that one of the few ways they will ever be seen is by becoming viral. Viral marketing is effective because its works on a few basic assumptions: that the ad is worth sharing (funny, shocking, interesting), that consumers are actively sharing it and that people are sending it to other people that they think might find it relevant, thus segmenting the market for the company (Fergurson, 2008).
There is a reason these adverts got banned in the first place. Whether it was for explicit, racist, sexist, shocking, sexual or inappropriate content, they tend to include something that stands out from the norm, making it particularly tempting to discover why they got banned in the first place.
Shocking adverts grab our attention making it more likely that they will be remembered (Fanselow 2003).
Sexy adverts tap into your evolutionary reproductive instincts to grab your attention (Riechert, 2003) and actually causes a larger amygdala response in men (Hamann et al. 2004). However, it is important to avoid misattribution (White, 1981).
Humour is often used in adverts, it increases engagement and not only helps us associate the brand with pleasant thoughts, if the joke is good we think the company is more intelligent (Sternthal 1973, Roux 2008).
Panda’s are one of the most effective marketing tools of all time.
- Adverts are banned for ethical reasons to protect us (and the little children) from inappropriate content.
- Adverts may be banned to reduce their exposure (mere exposure effect).
- Banning adverts may simply cause the product to become more differentiated.
- Word of mouth and word of mouse help the spread of viral videos.
- The content on which the advert was banned may make it more interesting when it is shared across the internet.
Could lifting bans in this way have implications for the possibility of drug legalisation?
Should this marmite advert be banned? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/10226396/Marmite-advert-faces-ban-as-animal-welfare-campaigners-either-love-it-or-hate-it.html
Bandura, A., Social Foundations of Thought and Action (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986).
Grube, J.W., ìTelevision alcohol portrayals, alcohol advertising, and alcohol expectancies among children and
adolescents,î in S.E.
Martin (ed.), The Effects of the Mass Media on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol,
NIAAA Monograph No. 28 (Washington, DC: DHHS, 1995), pp. 105-21.
Makowsky, C.R. and P.C. Whitehead, ìAdvertising and alcohol sales: A legal impact study,î Journal of Studies on
Alcohol 52, November 1991, 555-67.
Bornstein, R. F., & D’Agostino, P. R. (1992). Stimulus recognition and the mere exposure effect. Journal of personality and social psychology, 63(4), 545.
Ambler, T. (1996). Can alcohol misuse be reduced by banning advertising?.International Journal of Advertising, 15, 167-174.
Ferguson, R. (2008). Word of mouth and viral marketing: taking the temperature of the hottest trends in marketing. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 25(3), 179-182.
Fanselow, M. S., & Gale, G. D. (2003). The amygdala, fear, and memory.Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 985(1), 125-134.
Reichert, T. (2003). Sex in Advertising. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing.
Hamann, S., Herman, R. A., Nolan, C. L., & Wallen, K. (2004). Men and women differ in amygdala response to visual sexual stimuli. Nature neuroscience, 7(4), 411-416.
White, G. L., Fishbein, S., & Rutsein, J. (1981). Passionate love and the misattribution of arousal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41(1), 56.
ROUX, G. A. G. Humour in British Print Advertisements.
Sternthal, B., & Craig, C. S. (1973). Humor in advertising. The Journal of Marketing, 12-18.
Nelson, J. P., & Young, D. J. (2001). Do advertising bans work? An international comparison. International Journal of Advertising, 20(3), 273-296.