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Advertisers seek to develop advertisements that will maximise the appeal of their product to the target market; to encourage people to purchase a product or service (commercial marketers) or to adopt or change a behaviour (social marketers). Advertisers in many countries are bound by an industry-designed self-regulatory code of ethics which covers permissible advertising content. Many of these codes are based on the premise of not contravening prevailing community standards, although there is limited empirical evidence as to what these standards are. While the majority of complaints to the Australia’s self-regulatory advertising body relate to commercial advertisements, each year approximately 5 % of complaints relate to ‘community awareness’ advertisements, many of which would be defined as social marketing campaigns. The aim of this study was to investigate the Australian community’s views on the use of potentially controversial appeals in advertising – such as the portrayal of nudity, illegal behaviour and violence – and particularly whether these views, or standards, differ depending on the source and aims of the advertisement (that is, commercial versus social marketing advertisers). We surveyed 872 adults Australians about their views on the use of different types of appeals (based on the industry code of practice) in the context of commercial and social marketing. As we anticipated, consumers had more lenient views as to acceptable appeals in social marketing, compared to commercial, advertising; however, many are opposed to some controversial approaches, such as the use of nudity, portrayal of people as sex objects, and stereotyping vilifying social groups.


Centre for Health and Social Research

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Book Chapter

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