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We have all known for a while now that the shock factor is definitely one quick way to make the headlines, and like the old age saying goes ‘bad publicity is still good publicity’. I am investigating into if corporations are now pretty much relying on these shock tactics as their marketing strategy?

‘Controversial and shocking stunts get celebrities instant media coverage and attention,’ said Toni Tambourine, head of press at Listen-Up, a music PR agency that manages the likes of Avicii, Martin Garrix and David Guetta among other leading DJs and music producers. Tambourine explained that while Listen-Up prefers to focus on talent and client credibility, outrageousness has indeed become part and parcel of the strategy used by PR managers to ‘get people talking.’

Getting people to talk, tweet, comment and blog is undeniably the entire idea, and is in fact critical to maintaining a competitive edge in the already overcrowded world of digital media.

To be sure, controversy and scandal is no stranger to the music industry for how else would sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll define an entire era? But just as sex and drugs defined the rock ‘n’ roll era, so does sensationalism and voyeurism in music showbiz reflect the digital age of the music business today.

– Priyanka Dayal: PR: The Shock Factor (Posted: November 22, 2013 at 10:57) [http://www.cision.com/uk/blog/celebrity-pr-the-shock-factor/]

I have been reading this article about celebrities and the shock factor to get a bit more of an insight. ‘Listen-Up prefers to focus on talent and client credibility’ as stated in the exert above but it then goes on to say how ‘outrageousness has indeed become part and parcel of the strategy used by PR managers to ‘get people talking.’ it seems as if although some PR agencies although they do believe that talent is the key thing to sell they have also seemed to conform to using shock factor as a tactic for publicity.

One widely talked about ‘media stunt’ was when Miley smoked a spliff on the stage at the VMAs. Was this really a spontaneous move or was it all a pre-meditated publicity stunt already arranged by her PR team to keep the hype that was surrounding her upcoming ‘Bangerz’ world tour? Apparently Miley’s publicist declined to comment and Miley claimed that ‘”it was an unplanned move to drive fans ‘super wild.'”  Well whatever it was, spontaneous or pre arranged it definitely showed the shocking nature of the music industry of now a day.

Because the aim of cultural and media products is to fulfill sensorial and emotional enjoyment, the response of the viewer or listener becomes crucial. The most prevalent avenue for a respite from, and in preparation for work is the realm of “leisure effects.” Leisure effects generate a passive “receiver” response, where the individual seeks to be entertained rather than to be actively involved…can also have another effect; it can serve to orient the viewer/ listener to a “critical response … in the sense that he or she will be provoked into thinking and questioning by it.”[20] One way that such critical orientation can be affected is through the shock effect of jolting the audience out of the more passive habitual response.

Walter Benjamin, the German Marxist literary critic who first developed an understanding of shock effects in culture, reflected on the fulfillment of a more general human need through the process of shock effects. “Man’s need to expose himself to shock effects is his adjustment to the dangers threatening him.”[21] And to a large extent the shock effect has been absorbed into the evening news. The daily shock of the brutality of modern society–from the chemical destruction of the Love Canal to police violence in Miami, has become for the most part an accepted part of our everyday lives. For this reason, to be productive in a progressive sense the shock effect must contain a cognitive aspect; it “should be cushioned by heightened presence of mind” (Benjamin), as well as possess the “tactile” effect of a jolt out of the contemplative evasion of social pressures.

In this article that I have read by Neil Eriksen; Popular Culture and Revolutionary Theory: Understanding Punk Rock it talks about the response of the viewer as well as talking about how the ‘the individual seeks to be entertained rather than to be actively involved’ this is showing how because of using the shock factor it entertains the viewer which is what they want instead of being involved. It was Walter Benjamin, the German Marxist who first developed an understanding of the shock effect culture. He talks about how the shock effect is used in daily life such as in the news etc. Benjamin explains how the shock effect should be ‘cushioned by heightened presence of mind’ but as well as being ‘tactile’ undecided evasion of social pressures. Although Benjamin is talking about this back when he first discovered it it still applies to now a days it is still very ‘tactile’ the way the music industry are using shock factors to engage their audiences. Benjamin says how the shock factor is essential to the audience as I understand why because it draws the audience in to wanting to see more or know more about what is going on and what everyone is talking about especially in the music industry, when something shocking happens everyone wants to be in the know and we can especially see this with the case of Miley Cyrus. As soon as she took a drag of a spliff at the VMAs everyone wanted to know, even if you are not interested in there or appreciate her music you still wanted to know what happened at the VMAs, I know I did and a lot of the people I know we are not particularly following her.

Neil Eriksen. (1980). Popular Culture and Revolutionary Theory: Understanding Punk Rock. Available: https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/periodicals/theoretical-review/19801802.htm. Last accessed 13.02.2014.

It seems to be that the shock factor has been around for many years, everyone just seems to be wanting to up each other now. It was Madonna who once accidentally flashed during her 1984 performance of “Like A Virgin” and a second time on purpose in the1990′s during her performance of “Vogue.”. Britney Spears also known for shocking the public, her transformation form a Disney star into a grown sexy woman to Miley who is not following on from Britney’s past.

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Other celebrities are using shock tactics but in a different way for publicity of their up and coming albums. Beyoncé recent came out with her new album that no one knew about, it was purposely called ‘surprise’. As there was no hype or advertising around it when the news broke of it everyone went into a crazy state wanting to download her new surprise album. This caused her to have so much more publicity than what she would have if she has pre announced it. I guess that is always a risk to not promote your work but maybe this is the new way of getting attention to your work?

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