As you know the word "notoriety" often has a negative meaning:

  • notoriety :the state of being famous for something bad.

  • notoriety : fame for being bad in some way.

But it seems notoriety has a posetive meaning here:

Basically, notoriety administration is the process that is carried out keeping in mind the end goal to track the notoriety of your organization. https://belowthelinemarketing.com/about-btlmg/what-is-notoriety-management/

Or here:

Bernays went on to pull off these kinds of cultural coups regularly throughout the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. He completely revolutionized the marketing industry and invented the field of public relations in the process. Paying sexy celebrities to use your product? That was Bernays’s idea. Creating fake news articles that are actually subtle advertisements for a company? All him. Staging controversial public events as a means to draw attention and notoriety for a client? Bernays. Pretty much every form of marketing and publicity we’re subjected to today began with Bernays. (Everything is Fcked* by Mark Manson)

I wonder why "notoriety" has a positive meaning in marketing and branding area. And what does it mean here? Fame? could you please explain it to me?

  • 2
    I like the fact this question is now a "Hot Network Question" ... meaning it has gained notoriety!
    – Gamora
    Nov 11, 2019 at 13:25

3 Answers 3


The definitions you give are somewhat incomplete.

From Merriam-Webster's definition of notoriety:

: the quality or state of being notorious

From its definition of notorious:

: generally known and talked of
// iron is a notorious conductor of heat
— Lewis Mumford

As you can see, this does not mean something negative.

It is correct, however, to think that notorious often is used when talking about something negative.

The definition of notorious continues with this:

especially : widely and unfavorably known
// a notorious gangster
// an area notorious for soot, smog, and dust
— Pliotron

But the fact that notorious means something negative in those examples is made apparent from context. In one, notorious is followed by gangster; in the other, notorious is followed by soot, smog, and dust.

Even if we tend to think of notorious and notoriety in more of a negative sense by default, they can still be given an explicitly positive meaning by associating them with something positive:

Florida is notorious for its warm beaches.
Charities are notorious for their goodwill.
The woman gained notoriety and acclaim for her generosity.

If it seems odd to hear those words being associated with something positive, you don't need to use them in that way yourself. However, people do associate the words with positive things in some cases; it's just not as common as associating them with negative things.

So, if you see the use in association with something positive (or neutral), it might be a little unusual, but it's not actually wrong.

  • 2
    I think you missed the mark because both quotes are actually using notoriety to mean something negative. If you read the link to the first one, they're specifically talking about managing notoriety as in making sure people don't have a negative impression of a company by burying ("managing") the negative stuff. And the second one is right in the quote, "Staging controversial public events as a means to draw attention and notoriety for a client"...controversial is not a positive thing. Nov 11, 2019 at 11:32
  • I think the original writer used notoriety deliberately, being seen as badass and cool is often more desirable than being seen as "good"in advertising. (Re: perfume adds with blokes in leather biker jackets)
    – Borgh
    Nov 11, 2019 at 12:38

I wonder why "notoriety" has a positive meaning in marketing and branding area. And what does it mean here? Fame? could you please explain it to me?

This is less of a language question than a marketing question; even in the quotes that you've pulled, it is being used with the negative connotation, so you're right about the definition.

However, it's a bit of a marketing cliché that "there's no such thing as bad publicity", because even negative attention can increase awareness of a product. In the art world this is sometimes referred to as succès de scandale.

In a new study from Stanford Graduate School of Business, researchers say in some cases negative publicity can increase sales when a product or company is relatively unknown, simply because it stimulates product awareness.


The research indicates that new entrants may have little to lose when it comes to publicity of any kind — the key is simply to get seen. "Smaller [motion picture] producers," the authors write, for example, "may want to allow, or even fan, the flames of negative publicity." Indeed, bad press, they suggest, may even serve as a form of direct marketing that can "slip under the radar" and be unrecognized as such.


The cliché obviously isn't universally true. Some bad press can be harmful, especially to more well-established businesses or when exceedingly negative. But overall, it is a well-known adage and occasional marketing strategy.


Notoriety does not have positive or negative connotations.

It's all about context...

Notoriety - is the state of being notorious which is just generally known and talked of.

Now, this definition does also say "especially : widely and [unfavourably] known". Which has come about because of common use.

I.e. we talk about criminals being notorious for [cutting up their victims/leaving a calling card/escaping from prison].

This means that the word now if often viewed as negative (as in the definitions OP have provided).

My answer is backed up by this word of the day from alphadictionary:

[Notoriety is] a good example of the difference between a word and its usage. Notoriety by itself simply means "famous, well-known"; however, it is used most often to refer to that which is known for its bad qualities, such as a notorious criminal. This makes the use of this word quite tricky since its connotations tend to be pejorative. Notoriety is the noun for the adjective notorious.

It comes immediately from Latin notorius "well-known" from notus, the past participle of noscere "to get to know". The original root word was Proto-Indo-European gno- "to know", which lost its initial G to become noscere. It came to English in several forms, once the G changed, as expected, to K.

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