Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Van Putten, K. and Jones, S., It Depends on the Context: Community Views on the Use of Shock and Fear in Commercial and Social Marketing, Partnerships, Proof and Practice - International Nonprofit and Social Marketing Conference 2008, University of Wollongong, 15-16 July 2008.


Social marketing advertising has often utilised shock and fear based campaigns that contain frightening images, unsafe or illegal behaviour as well as violent and distressing images. To coincide with their use, there have also questions raised regarding the ethicality and acceptability of these types of appeals. Results from this pilot study support previous focus group findings, that members of the community have a teleological view of such issues in a social marketing context with a positive outcome justifying the means utilised to achieve it. All advertising whether it be commercial or social marketing, should maintain a level of ethical responsibility to ensure that campaigns are in line with evidence based community standards. This however can only occur when there is a relevant and well defined Code of Ethics to guide and uphold standards in relation to both commercial and social marketing advertising.