Is profanity good or bad for your marketing? (3 pros and 3 cons)

Does it matter one way or the other if you use profanity in your marketing materials? If you’re thinking, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” that’s fine (this post isn’t for you). But if you’ve ever wondered if you should start (or stop) using profanity in your marketing materials, this one’s for you!

While I have my own opinion on profanity in marketing, I want to take an objective look at this subject. In this post I’ll explore the business reasons why profanity may be a pro or a con for your brand.

Marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuck curses often in videos, on podcasts, or in his books. Other marketers do too. You can’t go down an aisle filled with business books and not see at least one that has a curse word in its title. 

But is it wise to do so in your marketing content? Let’s dive in.

Pro: It can be shocking

Seeing a curse word in the title of a book or blog post may be an attention-grabber. If you’re using videos as part of your digital marketing strategy, profanity may elicit an emotional response in the listener, which can make your video memorable.

Con: It can make you sound unprofessional

While a lot of marketers may use profanity in their marketing materials, there are plenty who do not. For audiences who prefer a curse-free content experience, they may find your company’s profanity to be unprofessional, even juvenile. It would stink to lose a sale because of a four-letter word.

Pro: It can be viewed as conversational

If your target audience curses in their everyday conversation, it stands to reason that cursing in you marketing materials makes you sound more personable. It may also cause people to view your company as having a relaxed feel to it, which may help your audience lower their guard when you pitch your call-to-action (CTA). 

Con: It lends itself to sloppy writing

I love comedians. Especially clean ones. Why? Because they don’t use cursing as a “shock-value” crutch. This forces them to actually create witty content.

I think the same thing could be said for marketing. While the F-word may be versatile (after all, it can be used as a noun, verb, and adjective), it could make your content come across as lazy and uninspired.

Pro: It could be viewed as “keeping up with the times”

Streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix have allowed for hugely popular shows that contain more cursing than just about any show from 20 years ago. This may indicate that the times are changing when it comes to accepting the common-place use of profanity.

Con: It can distract from your message

While some may value the shock factor of an expletive-laced blog post, it’s possible that your audience will remember your profanity more than your message. This isn’t great for digital markers or business owners who want potential customers to remember a specific message regarding a product or service.

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