The fourth of July marks the anniversary of our nation’s independence, when we can celebrate the freedom to choose our own religion, where we live, who we marry and what we do for work. And there is no better way to celebrate all of our freedoms than by competitively gorging ourselves on hot dogs!

Joey Chestnut holds the world record for competitive hot dog consumption with 69 hotdogs eaten in ten minutes in 2013. This year, he was the eight-time defending champion until Matt Stonie stunningly dethroned him—62 hot dogs for Stonie to 60 hot dogs for Chesnut. While the hot dog eating competition might not have made its way to primetime yet, there are still a lot of people like myself who tune in to the contest annually.

While the sarcastic spin placed on the event and the mustard yellow championship belt make for entertaining viewing, more people tune in for the sheer shock value. It’s the same reason that many people watch the disastrous programming known as reality television. Shock value is great for getting people’s attention, but how long does it keep their focus? What lengths are these producers willing to go to in order to maintain a steady level of interest? For the hot dog eating competition, it’s an annually televised event—but it has little exposure outside of that one day.

In all seriousness, sometimes shock value is a strategy for businesses who are trying to make a splash. Do the “sensational” tactics work? What does the use of shock value say about organizations and their priorities? Do you think that shock value tactics pay off in the long run?

Now to You…
What are the best examples and most epic failures you have seen with the use of shock value? What did you learn from them as a professional?

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