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Radical Advertising Risks: Overview

Think different

Radical advertising is back on a rampage. The shock value concept of the 80s is once again the go to as far as getting your brand in the minds of an audience. Fashion designers like Calvin Klein and Diesel, and artists such as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst made it popular to tastefully offend people.

Many of the advertisements that appeared on billboards or in magazines in the 1980s and 1990s were designed to shock. They not only revolutionized the advertising industry, but also generated heated debates among members of the public. The controversy generated by Benetton, for example, was so intense that some magazines refused to print Benetton advertisements featuring images of death row in American prisons and some retailers stopped stocking Benetton products.

Since the 1990s, globalization has also produced a fundamental change in the way consumers consume the media. In the 21st century, advertising has reacted to the media overkill caused by the complete fragmentation of television and the advent of the Internet, mobile telephony, and instant messaging with a second, equally radical U-turn: it is withdrawing from mass communication and addressing individuals wherever it encounters them. The relationship with the consumer has changed from being a passive one to being an active one. Buzz marketing, guerrilla advertising, ambient advertising, and Web2.0 have created the participating consumer.


As a “New Traditional” agency it is important for us to note the themes that worked in the past and how they mesh with the themes of today. Radical isn’t pigeonholed anymore; it’s about as interchangeable as the mind behind the creation. The 90s were all about Radical Shock: advertising as a means of attack. The 2000’s were about Radical Life: advertising as a means of making contact. With all the civil unrest 2010 and beyond will be about Radical Moral: advertising as a means of co-operation.

It’s safe to say that from a marketing perspective, things should be very interesting.



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