Invective Marketing

Invective Marketing

Ever heard the phrase ‘any PR is good PR’? Invective Marketing is a relatively new practice that draws on similar concepts – being controversial, insensitive and often downright rude – in order to get a reaction from viewers, spark discussion and reap the benefits of the attention.

What Is Invective Marketing?

‘Invective’ is defined as insulting, abusive, or highly critical language. It forms the crux of this new marketing method that has been adopted by a number of public figures; mainly individuals – organisations and businesses are yet to utilise these abrasive methods.

Invective marketers know the importance of building up an initial following – via blogging, TV interviews etc. All forms of social media can be used for this insidious form of marketing, a prime example being Twitter.

Individuals utilising the invective marketing strategy establish a foothold and, using their newfound recognition, let loose on a popular public figure with a ‘controversial’ opinion of their own (their belief in the opinion is not necessary, as long as it draws the ire of others). Examples show that wording is kept fairly rational – but still caustic – so as to not immediately be dismissed as insane.

This is slightly similar to the practice of shock-jock radio hosts (just look at Kyle Sandilands and his recent troubles), but a tad more underhanded. If an individual’s initial outreach is successful, there will be an even larger following gained to help spread their name. Later messages don’t even have to be aimed at anyone specific – an entire culture group is fair game in the invective marketing arena:

Invective Marketing Examples

Katie Hopkins, Twitter Former UK reality television star Katie Hopkins has been one of the prominent flag bearers for these new marketing techniques, and has left all sense of shame behind in her recent attempts. This above tweet is a prime example of the demographics being targeted and the language being used – she’s riding off the Sydney Siege drama with an insensitive and racist tweet designed purely for controversy and attention. So where did she come from? Despite not winning ‘The Apprentice’ TV show she competed in, she is still more popular than any of its other contestants, gaining her notoriety from her controversial comments. This tweet taken from her public feed is an example of the daily vitriol she spreads in order to stay relevant. She began targeting individuals and has now moved on to larger groups of people – her current campaign is heavily against overweight people or as she calls it: “the chubsters”, promoting her new program ‘My Fat Story’.


Katie Hopkins, Twitter

Despite the obvious hatred she creates for herself via comments like these, it’s nonetheless provided her with TV air-time, a job as a newspaper columnist, her own TV program – lots of opportunities to make money. This is summed up by a tweet from one of her followers, which Hopkins herself featured on her own feed:

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Image credit: Katie Hopkins, Twitter

People are dragged in by the sleaze and drama which perpetuates her presence as a ‘celebrity’. Networks (and possibly her current employers) see that she draws a large amount of attention so they give her space and money. Google her name and you’ll find dozens of articles chronicling her latest exploits. Hopkins is one of the few ‘success’ stories of invective marketing.

Are you not entertained?

However, she gained these opportunities thanks to her time on ‘The Apprentice’, which gave her an initial base amount of followers in order to start marketing herself. There are enough characters being abusive on the internet that you need at least some kind of platform to gain significant attention. She remained relevant through constant controversial comments – inspiring argumentative feedback and talk show invites, leading to her current success.

Popular blogger Jack Monroe also tried her hand at this recently, piggybacking an incredibly insensitive message on the #CameronMustGo twitter hashtag. Whilst it’s granted Monroe a lot of media presence and discussion, it may have backfired on her. Monroe is the current face of the Sainsbury’s budget cooking brand, and they have been under pressure not to renew her contract – releasing a statement to clarify their position on her views: ‘Jack Monroe blogs independently. Sainsbury’s is not a political organisation and we certainly don’t share her views.’ Thankfully it appears Monroe may not get off as ‘easy’ as Hopkins has.


Jack Monroe, Twitter

A lesser example might be seen in Amanda Bynes, a 90’s actor who recently came back into public view following a series of bizarre tweets against a number of current celebrities and popular personas “@rihanna you look so ugly tryin to be white”, “They airbrushed @drake to make his eyes look like he doesn’t have down syndrome”. Although these are probably attributed to her diminishing mental state (she’s been in and out of psych wards over the last few years), it’s accomplished something similar to Hopkin’s efforts. Bynes used her former stardom to propel her vitriol across the twittersphere, and like Hopkins, googling her name returns a laundry list of her most recent acts.

Invective Marketing Results

If a person with less empathy imitated her examples (i.e. Hopkins) and veiled them cleverly they would probably see a similar surge in attention – with the possibility of monetizing their efforts. Her twitter followers have been steadily rising since her initial online outbursts, currently sitting at 3.75 million followers.

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Image credit: Twitter Statistics

Please Don’t Do This

So it seems there is potential for marketing success in invective marketing. Hopkins appears to be doing very well despite her methods and while Monroe has given her pages a large buff in views, she may end up regretting it. Do these means justify the ends? Any human with an ounce of moral fortitude would tell you that no, they do not.

It’s shameful to see sociopaths succeeding this way, and worse to see the masses of people taking the bait and giving them the attention they need. Next time you see an obvious attempt like the above, refrain from giving them the satisfaction and ignore it. Hopefully Katie Hopkins is the last to be successful through invective marketing.

Evan Connolly

University Student in Australia studying Computer Science with a keen eye for all forms of technology.

2 thoughts on “Invective Marketing

  1. Nick Beaumont says:

    Great post Evan, especially liking some of your examples. Invective Marketing – whilst it may generate some small-scales results – is not a long term, scalable strategy for any person or business. Base, immoral, and drags the name marketers even more through the mud.

    Thanks for the insight, and check out this blog post I have previously written on the subject if you have time: http://www.nicholasbeaumont.com/2014/12/07/invective-marketing-monetizing-troll/

    Nick Beaumont

  2. Kerry Butters says:

    Very interesting, thanks. Katie Hopkins immediately sprang to mind when I started reading this so I’m glad that you used her as an example as she’s perfect to illustrate what it’s all about. She’s vile and very disliked in the UK and yet keeps on getting more air time. Ideally, if we ignored her, she’d go away but as you point out, her comments are constructed for very good reason and that’s because they gain results for her. Personally I’d prefer that she never graced our screens again. I agree with Nick too, this type of marketing is far from scaleable and it creates too much controversy for any kind of decent reputation to be made. Let’s hope we don’t see too much more of it in the coming year.

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