PROVOCATIVE MARKETING : A study in how provocative marketing from profit-seeking companies is perceived by users’ in a social media context
Abstract: The everlasting noise in today's marketing landscape has given rise to provocative marketing, which has become a frequently applied technique by marketers in an attempt to attract individuals’ attention. Provocative marketing can be defined as a deliberate appeal within the content of a marketing message, expected to shock its audience, since it is signified with values, norms or taboos that are not generally challenged in marketing because of its equivocalness and distinctiveness. Profit-seeking companies are increasingly applying provocative marketing techniques in order to gain attention, and simultaneously, the World Wide Web has given rise to the phenomena of social media, which presents a new context for provocative marketing messages. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore how provocative marketing from profit-seeking companies is perceived by users’ in a social media context. In order to answer the purpose of the study, the research question is: ‘What makes advertisements provocative in social media?’ The study is of qualitative nature, and uses a cross-sectional research design by conducting a semi-structured focus group. The results reveal that provocative marketing is seen as a risky venture for profit-seeking companies to apply in the context of social media, however, the receiver would not be as shocked to see provocative marketing messages with sexual content in the context of social media as in the traditional media context. Moreover, provocative marketing in the context of social media runs the risk of becoming habitualized if displayed over a long period of time, and the element of shock can become dimished. Therefore, profit-seeking companies who apply provocative marketing in the context of social media need to constantly innovate and revive their advertisements to avoid tediousness.
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