Reference to one campaign - Sample Essay

Advertising agencies use shock tactics in their advertisements so that the audience would recognise the issue raised in the campaigns. Agencies do this so the audience feel sorry, guilty, horrified and make them see beyond their own lives. Barnardos have a reputation for using shock tactics in their advertising campaigns. They were forced to axe a pre-Christmas advertising campaign after the Advertising Standards Authority ruled the content to be too shocking. The campaign featured computer-generated images of newborn babies with cockroaches, syringes and methylated spirits in their mouths.

It shows that these babies have the odds stacked against them before they even leave hospital: they are more likely to grow up to be addicted to alcohol and drugs, become the victims and perpetrators of crime and to be homeless. This advertising campaign was prepared by BBH advertising agency and cost around one million pounds to produce. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received four hundred and sixty six complaints, which was a record for the most complained about advert; three previous campaigns for Barnardo’s generated complaints, but the ASA ruled on each occasion that they should be allowed to go ahead.

Barnardos thought that the audience would be able to look beyond the challenging images and realise that the real issue is the shocking fact that the UK has some of the worst child poverty of all developed nations. However the ASA’s argument was that the adverts might encourage people to mistreat children or themselves. There were four adverts released. One of the four did not upset the public because it showed a nice baby, well dressed with a silver spoon in it’s mouth and the message “If only every child in the UK was born with a silver spoon”.

The baby looks happy and loved, this picture has the connotations of upper class. The other three pictures shows the babies with harmful objects in their mouths, this shows that they are living in poor conditions, unloved, unclean, and that they are born into a drug addiction or alcoholism environment. These adverts make me feel sorry for them and I find them disturbing. This advertising campaign was aimed at the upper class society; it was put in the Guardian and other top leading papers. It was launched just before Christmas; the company was clever to do this because Christmas is supposed to be a time for giving.

The campaign was trying to highlight the fact that despite having the fourth largest economy in the world, the UK has one of the highest levels of child poverty of all industrialised countries, with 3. 8 million children (1 in 3) living in poverty. The whole idea of the campaign was to make the public realise this fact. The purpose for these adverts is to trigger the public’s attention and get the message across to the audience. I think this specific Barnardos campaign has pushed the boundaries slightly too far and could have made the pictures more tasteful and appealing to the public.

However because there has been such uproar about this particular campaign the company has had more publicity then perhaps intended. The reason that this campaign has had so many complaints from the public is because the adverts are making the audience think about what could be happening outside their life. The ideology is that the public don’t want to see these adverts and want to turn a blind eye to the truth of what actually is happening outside their own life. However the adverts were made for the audience to see beyond what the images show, because obviously the images aren’t real and it wouldn’t happen to such an extent in real life.