Advertisers are increasingly writing swear words into television commercial scripts just so they can bleep them out. The practice, which has been especially noticeable on YouTube, gives viewers a strong illusion of authenticity by creating scenes that appear to be "real life moments." Writing bleeped swear words into a script grabs viewers' attention, and the millions of people who have been downloading YouTube advertisements that contain bleeped swear words proves the effectiveness of the strategy. This is an example of advertisers using prohibition as a "persuasive branding technique." In other words, they know that making something seem forbidden increases its appeal. Movie makers apply the same strategy when they include an extra track of out-takes, bloopers and mistakes on movie DVDs. This makes the movie seem more "real" to people, and draws more viewers to it. Manufacturing fake reality can have drawbacks, though. When discovered, it can backfire and people will rebel against it. Authentic authenticity is still the best.
Posted by Anne Landman on July 08, 2008