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Unformatted text preview: Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, Volume 28, Number 2 (Fall 2006). Timothy P. Christy (Ph.D., University of Tennessee, Knoxville) is an assistant professor of Advertising at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He received a Ph.D. in communications. This paper is based on his dissertation. The author extends special thanks to Ronald E. Taylor for guidance and preliminary review. (email: [email protected]) Females’ Perceptions of Offensive Advertising: The Importance of Values, Expectations, and Control Timothy P. Christy The advertising industry has consistently been a target of criticism over the years. One criticism especially prevalent among activists and audience members alike involves advertising’s ability to offend. By incorporating female consumer perspectives from in-depth interviews, this study presents a grounded theory conceptualization of advertising offensive- ness that includes conditions and consequences surrounding the construct. This conceptualization provides needed insight into a phenomenon that is often experienced by the advertising industry but is seldom planned. Employing qualitative methodology to understand how women are offended will assist both advertising professionals develop more effective communication strategies and advertising researchers measure the offensiveness construct. The media have recently experienced a significant increase in criticism over questionable content. One facet of the media that is no stranger to such criticism is advertising. Since the 1960s, consumer studies have indicated the public’s views toward advertising are copiously negative (e.g., Bauer and Greyser 1968; Mittal 1994). Similar to other media content, advertis- ing has a tendency to inadvertently offend many, es- pecially female consumers, which can damage brand loyalty and the client-agency relationship. Unlike other media, however, advertising is more pervasive in people’s lives, increasing the likelihood that consum- ers outside a target market will be exposed to mes- sages that are not intended for their viewing. Since it is increasingly simple for these consumers to pass along negative word-of-mouth through web logs (“Blogs”) and other new media technologies, compa- nies should become more aware of how various audi- ences are offended. Understanding offensiveness from the perspectives of women is particularly important considering female heads-of-household often act as media content gatekeepers and possess strong pur- chase influence and behavior, regardless of their tar- get audience status. Since individuals often create their own realities, truths, and meanings based upon inter- actions with others as well as their own ideas, value systems, and cultural backgrounds (Blumer 1969), it is necessary to acquire an audience-centric compre- hension of offensive advertising to truly understand and manipulate the construct....
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