The essay “Charities: Shocking Their Way into People’s Hearts?” discusses the role of shock advertising in charity campaign, main contributors to these advertisements, and the extent of the success of the charities that used shockvertising. It also discusses moral implications, the sociological influence of resorting to such tactics to gain publicity.
Charity advertising campaigns usually resort to this type of promotion so that viewers will immediately grasp the essence of their organization and their advocacy. In 2007, a charity called “Enable”, a charity that helped people with learning disabilities, released posters that showed pictures of people with Down’s syndrome with catchphrases like “If I ate out of a dog bowl would you like me more?” and “Would you like me to sit up and beg?”. In 2008, Barnardo, a charity for children, introduced its TV commercial by Bartle Bogle Hegarty about a teenage girl powerless to escape from abuse and violence. This resulted in 477 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. In September 2009, Germany released its AIDS-awareness campaign commercial featuring Adolf Hitler with a message at the very end “AIDS is a mass murderer”. Newspaper ads and posters were also circulated, bearing the faces of other tyrants such as Stalin and Saddam Hussein with similar messages. This elicited strong reactions from viewers, mainly shock, disgust, and nausea. Things like these do catch people’s attention.