Today’s infotainment clutter puts pressure on advertisers to come up with more surprising and more memorable ads. This need for novelty, creativity, and astonishment does set the expectation bar high, steering ads towards various means of eliciting surprise, including humour, shock, and taboo. In this paper, the author will try to investigate a set of multimodal advertising messages which use (debatable) humour and surprise, with a view to finding trans-cultural similarities and differences in terms of ad appreciation. The primary objective of this paper is to explore attitudinal responses of Taiwanese informants to controversial humorous advertisements in English; to this end, an online survey was conducted to ask them about their interpretations of and feelings towards a selection of ads. Its results will be compared with those obtained from Polish respondents, described in the author’s previous study (Stwora 2020).
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