This 2008 Snickers advertisement shows Mr T (Laurence Tureaud) crashing though a house on a Snickers truck machine, and spots a speed walking man and shouts at him ‘Speed walking; I pity you fool; You are a disgrace to the man race. It's time to run like a real man.’ Then Mr T opens fire from his truck and shoots Snickers bars at the speed walker forcing him to rum away. The Snickers commercial was unsuccessful due to the implications of violence and offensiveness towards homosexuals.
First, the speed walker man in tight yellow shorts was called a ‘fool’, he was harassed by Mr T, and told that he was a ‘disgrace to the man race’. He was then forced by Mr T to run like a ‘real man’. This commercial is offensive to homosexuals and was criticized by organizations that protect human rights for portraying gays as a second class citizens, and the use of violence as acceptable and humorous. It could also be interpreted as offensive toward men who do not meet stereotypical expectations.
Research shows that the use of violence in an advertisement is not a successful marketing strategy. A survey carried out by Adnerson, Hedelin, Nilsson, and Welander (2004) showed that people do not like violent adverts. The researchers asked about participants experience, feelings, reactions, association towards various adverts, and whether they evoked a positive or negative impression. The result showed that the audience reacted negatively towards violent adverts, and they viewed violent content as negative. The message expressed by the advertiser was not interpreted by the audience in the same way.
Moreover, violent advertisement are less likely to be recalled than neutral advertisements. Bushman (2007) found that memory of violent adverts was decreased, in contrast to neutral ads that were easy to remember.
Another advertisement that used violence as a marketing technique is Diesel. At the first glance it is rather difficult to understand what product is being advertised, only the small logo indicates the advertiser’s name. In the foreground the audience can see a solider with a weapon, in the background there is a mother with a young child and another two young people. The advert is associated with war, violence, and feelings of fear, apprehension or terror. That combination of violence and fashion in advertisement is bizarre and evokes negative emotions in the audience (Adnerson, Hedelin, Nilsson, & Welander, 2004).
Companies that show prejudice and violence expose themselves to risk that they offend the audience, their products might be dismissed and the overall message might be seen as distasteful or offensive and that might result in damage to the company reputation (Leonard, & Ashley, 2012).
Here's another example:
Here's another example:
Adnerson, S., Hedelin, A., Nilsson, A., & Welander, C. (2004). Violent advertising in fashion marketing. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 8, 96-112.
Bushman, B. (2007). That was a great commercial, but what were they selling? Effects of violence and sex on memory for products in television commercials. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37, 1784-1796.
Leonard, H. A., & Ashley, C. (2012). Exploring the underlying dimension of violence in print advertisement. Journal of Advertising, 41, 77-90.