Reggae Music News

The Impact Of Shock – Artistes Resort To Jaw-Dropping Displays As Promotion Strategy

Entertainment insiders believe shock-value marketing is a clever way for artistes to get attention.

The insiders believe that shock-value marketing is often extreme and may evoke disgust, shock, anger, fear, or similar negative emotions from an audience, however, once the artiste is cognisant of his goals and has an accurate plan in place, there can be positive results.

According to publicist at Prism Marketing, Raymond ‘Shadow’ Small, shock-value marketing has been a part of the international scene for a long time, however, locally, artistes are finally realising that fans want more than recordings from entertainers.

“Artistes are realising that there is more to the business than singing songs, people want a celebrity that sparks interest. Some artistes are familiar with a lot of attention, while others are not seen as much, so shock value can push the envelope and shift the attention to that artiste that wants the attention,” Small said.

The publicist also pointed out that shock-value marketing can have serious negative implications on the career of an artiste if the strategy is taken too far, or if there is no underlining plan to capitalise on the publicity received from controversial acts.

These acts, like creating sex tapes, releasing nude pictures, bleaching, tattooing of the eye or public fights may pull the attention of the public.

“It has a place, but there has to be a strategic plan behind it. A lot of people do it without a plan, but it’s more beneficial if you know what your next step is. Whether you are promoting an album or a single, there must be an aim behind the shock value. You also have to prepare yourself to be criticised by the people because you are putting yourself out there,” he said.


Small also warned publicists to prepare clients for the repercussions of shock-value marketing. He says some artistes have mastered the art of transforming negative news into something.

However, there are many artistes who need to be taught how to do damage-control interviews.

“Any good publicist will prepare clients. You have to sit them down and examine how you are going to deal with the situation,” Small told The Gleaner.

Dancehall artistes have always found outlandish ways to stimulate interest in their work, from Vybz kartel’s skin bleaching and sex pictures to Danielle D.I.’s raunchy photo releases, and more recently, young artistes Mace and Alkaline claiming to have tattooed the sclera of their eyes for attention.

Alkaline, for instance, openly admitted to using shock-value marketing during an interview on TVJ’s Entertainment Report.

“You have like 10 million artistes in Jamaica, everybody claim that they are the baddest, so I think to distinguish myself from every other entertainers, why not just tat my eyes … everybody has their own stepping stone to success and I guess this happens to be mine. This is just something to captivate the interest of people and I think I have achieved that. Some are freaked out, but they don’t need to be freaked out because I am a shock-value artiste and I bring theatrics and provocativeness to dancehall,” Alkaline said.

Entertainment manager/publicist, Keona Williams, who has worked with controversial artistes like Tommy Lee Sparta and Danielle D.I., says shock value is more beneficial to artistes who are seeking relevance in a music industry in which their brand is a scarce commodity. She also highlighted that the marketing strategy can cause serious brand damage if not executed properly.

“If you are a new artiste and you don’t have anybody to propel your career like a Tommy Lee, Aidonia and a Bounty Killer, you are going to need shock value,” Williams said.

“Discuss with your management team to see the pros and the cons and how it will affect you because it can damage your character and you can lose endorsements,” she said.

Not every instance of shock-value marketing begins as a deliberate act, Williams explaining that some controversy stems from real situations, but are misinterpreted by the media.



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