Last year I attempted to write a dissertation on using shock tactics for social marketing campaigns; I read journals and I travelled down to London to interview several charities on the subject. Sadly I never completed my dissertation due to illness but shock tactics for social marketing campaigns is something I know a little about.

I was shocked though when I saw the latest advert from the No to AV campaign (you can see it here. I refuse to put such a horrible picture on my blog, I’m sticking with images of cupcakes and embroidery projects). I never reached a conclusion when researching my dissertation about whether or not shock tactics are acceptable but I was considering the use of shocking images to raise awareness of child prostitution, animal abuse or deadly diseases; serious problems which are innately shocking NOT the unexciting, non-shocking, mild version of electoral form that is AV.

If someone is upset by a picture of a baby with a cockroach in their mouth then it might be worth it if it raises awareness of the level of child poverty in this country (1 in 3 children in the UK live in poverty); if someone is upset by a picture of a distressed baby then it isn’t (in my opinion) worth it just because awareness of voting systems in this country might be increased.

I really hope that the No to AV campaign recognise their mistake and pull this advert because it just further desensitises us all to shocking images and might even prevent a worthwhile campaign justified in using shocking images from working.

I know some of you reading this will think “so what? It’s just a picture” but is there anyone out there who can really justify using a picture of a distressed, ill baby for a campaign on electoral reform? I doubt it.

This blogpost isn’t about the rights or wrongs of AV, I’ve already blogged on how I’m going to vote here, but about whether these tactics are justified for a campaign like this.