Posted by: | 25th Oct, 2011

Controversial Marketing Techniques

Last week fellow Comm 296 student Kelsey Ingham blogged about the use of shock value in marketing, and I want to bring up an instance in which that has come up in my life recently.

For well over a year, BC Place stadium in downtown Vancouver was undergoing renovations. The biggest and most visible improvement was a new retractable roof and a huge superstructure that will define the city’s skyline for decades to come. The long-awaited opening of the new BC Place was an event that many people in the lower mainland were looking forward to, and it would be at a BC Lions game on September 30, 2011.

Now while many people were planning on checking out the venue in person that first night, many planned on just watching it on TV from home. But the leading up to the Friday game, the BC Lions threatened to lock the game out on lower mainland television, forcing people to either go to the game downtown, or not see the stadium at all. This caused much outrage in the public, after all, the $563 million renovation was funded by taxpayer money. At the same time, many people did end up buying tickets to the game; final attendance was around 50 000. Late on Thursday the Lions announced that they had decided not to lock the game out, and everyone would be able to watch the game from home for free. Some people were even so naïve as to praise the Lions for their decision.

This example and Kelsey’s made me ask myself what actual value exists for a company using shock value or controversy to such an extent in their marketing efforts. While this may be attracting attention, what is it really doing to their brand image? The use of shock value in marketing never creates a positive buzz around companies. Many people see right through the BC Lions controversial ploy, and I anticipate that Ecotique Spa & Salon will receive a similar reaction. I just don’t see how these techniques can bring about anything resembling customer delight. More often it just riles people up.

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