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Would you share that? How the intensity of violent and sexual humor, gender and audience diversity affect sharing intentions for online advertisements

Lookup NU author(s): Richard Freeman, Professor Matthew Gorton



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Purpose – The purpose of this study is to understand the effect of increasing the intensity of sexual or violent content on consumer responses to online video advertisements, with a particular emphasis on sharing intentions. Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses a between-subjects experimental design across two studies using new to the world online video advertisements as stimuli. Findings – Study 1 finds that increasing the intensity of sexual and violent humor improves advertisement effectiveness amongst men but leads to significantly more negative attitudes toward the advertisement and brand amongst women. Study 2 identifies gender and humor type as moderators for sharing intentions in the presence of audience diversity. While men are more likely to publicly share sexual and violent humor advertisements, social anxiety mediates intentions to share sexual humor advertisements in the presence of greater audience diversity. Practical implications – The paper offers insights to practitioners regarding the use of risqué forms of humor as part of a digital marketing strategy. Originality/value – Drawing on and extending benign violation theory, the paper introduces and verifies a theoretical model for understanding consumer responses to the use of risqué forms of humor in online advertisements. It identifies how audience diversity affects sharing intentions for sexual and violent humor-based advertisements on social media.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Freeman R, Marder B, Gorton M, Angell R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Information Technology & People

Year: 2022

Issue: ePub ahead of Print

Online publication date: 30/08/2022

Acceptance date: 05/08/2022

Date deposited: 25/08/2022

ISSN (electronic): 0959-3845

Publisher: Emerald Publishing Limited


DOI: 10.1108/ITP-09-2021-0679

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/5432-fk46


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