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Is Swearing Acceptable In Marketing?

Quick disclaimer; If you are easily offended by swearing, well, tough shit, this blog is about swearing.

Swearing; every person nowadays swears, but this wasn’t always the case, was it?

Swearing is not a new thing. Since the ancient Roman times people have sworn but in recent years it has crept into everyday use, it is now being used in advertising and marketing. Is this a step too far? Is it cool and trendy? or, Do you sound like a bit of a tosser?

Is it ok to swear on social media? Well, as long as it is not used as abusive or in a bullying context then it shouldn’t be a problem. It all depends on the type of message you wish to put out about yourself or your business.

Does swearing in a video production make the video edgy or does it put your audience off? Once again it depends on your brand and tone of voice. I mean if you are selling a product aimed at kids then it’s definitely not a good idea! Swearing is already used in films, tv shows, music, in the workplace and in everyday conversation, it just depends on the reasoning behind it.

According to a theory by Steven Pinker it is used in 5 different ways:

Abusive swearing.

This is designed to offend, intimidate, and to cause emotional or psychological harm.

Cathartic swearing.

This is a response to pain or misfortune.

Dysphemistic swearing.

This is used suggestively to persuade a listener to think in a negative way about something.

Emphatic swearing.

This is used to draw attention or to emphasise something that is worth paying attention to.

Idiomatic swearing.

This has no particular reason for the swearing, it is used between 2 speakers in a casual, close relationship.

This categorises swearing and makes sense of what the speaker is trying to say without it being a string of profanity. Marketers are using emphatic swearing to emphasise what they are saying, it’s used mainly for shock tactics.

People think of swearing in a negative way because for years it has been used in such a sense but now people aren’t even that offended by swearing like they use to be which poses the question; Does it even have the intended impact it is meant to have?

A marketer called Dan Meredith uses swearing for his book and marketing tactics. I’m a big fan of Dan’s work and I think swearing definitely highlights what he is trying to say. There is something quite raw and aggressive about adding swearing to prove your point.

I think at the end of the day, we are all grown ups and people can be too easily offended, as long as swearing is not used in a derogatory way or used to be abusive then I don’t see the problem.Comedians swear to set the tone or to emphasise a joke; swearing says, “this is not for kids, this is for adults.”

In the industry there are far too many carbon copy, clean cut, latte drinking, chino wearing, smug looking marketers. Marketers who are too afraid to rock the boat, to try something new out of fear of offending people. Creative Outlaw Media are the rogues, rough around the edges, creative agency.

In summary; we are here to fuck shit up.

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