History Of Offensive Advertising

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Previous studies proposed that offensive advertising is compiled of several dimensions (Barnes and Dotson, 1990; Phau and Prendergast, 2001; Waller, 1999). Phau and Prendergast (2001) investigated “the matter” (products or services being advertised), “the manner” (advertising executions) and “the media” (advertising media/vehicles) of offensive advertising. Consumers find an advertisement offensive because the product is not suitable for public display or open discussion, the advertising execution is considered to be vulgar, obscene or irritating or the type of advertisement is not appropriate for a particular medium. It is “the manner” that would commonly be perceived controllable by the advertisers and thus inexcusable if it is the cause…show more content…
For example, Aaker and Bruzzone (1985) found that the three most irritating subjects for commercials in the US were feminine hygiene products, women’s 4 undergarments, and hemorrhoid treatments. Waller (1999) found that the three most offensive topics in Australia were racially extremist groups, religious denominations and feminine hygiene products. Phau and Prendergast (2001) found that the three most offensive topics in Singapore were chat-line services, sexual diseases and dating services. Taking a wider perspective, Fam and Waller’s (2003) study across Asia found that offensive matter could be classified into four primary groups: sex related products, social/political groups, addictive products, and health care products. However, there is evidence that the public has an evolving view, and that they generally understand the difficulties in formulating advertisements for offensive matter (Barnes and Dotson 1990). A study of offensive advertising in China indicated that offensive advertising can be classified into three categories: offensive matter - non-sexual; offensive matter - sexual; and offensive in manner. The last category representing offensive advertising execution, was perceived as being the most offensive. The central issue in advertising, therefore, is not the offensiveness of the product or service to be advertised, as this cannot be avoided. Rather the focus of agencies and their clients should be on the offensiveness of the execution and the associated creative tactics

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