5 Of The Most Controversial Adverts

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Every advert hopes to be popular, but when it gets the attention for all the wrong reasons, we cannot help but wonder how they got it wrong.

Adverts have to be captivating to gain any attention. Advertisement companies dedicate tonnes of time in creating catchy jingles, hiring famous models, getting the right location and who knowswhat else. But, sometimes they can over-step the mark. Adverts that were meant to only slightly shock its audience end up creating hysterical controversy. These five adverts have crossed that very thin line from creating a shock factor to downright, offensive material.

Zazoo Condoms

Portraying an unruly child, embarrasseddad, and the whole of the supermarket staring at you with condescending eyes proved more controversial than it had intended.


The sheer humiliation on the dad’s face and his inability to control the child was used as a means of promoting condoms. It makes a very blunt comment that if you don’t use protection you will be unfortunate enough to not only have bratty children,but also not be able to complete your shopping. It was quiteobvious this was going to stir up some controversy.



Department Of Energy And Climate Change

Eco –friendly advertisements and campaigns are everywhere. Escaping them is next to impossible.

So, when the departmentof climate change decided to modify a very intimate moment between father and daughter before bed time into the dangers of carbon emissions, it’s no wonder that parents were beginning to complain.


The ad ends with the innocent little girl enquiring “is there a happy ending”, and the father replying “it’s up to us how the story ends.”Most of the problems lied in over exaggerating the environmental issues. To especially use children as a means of spreading awareness quite clearly did not go down very well.





Irn Bru

Who knew an advert for a soft drink company could prove to be unsuitable for children? It lures you in with a man who is supposed to be a pied piper figure. All the cute little cartoon animals innocently following him and then – BAM! –-they’re led into a butchers’ shop with their unfortunates fates forever sealed.

Other than causing outrage from parents, I struggle to understand what exactly this carcrash of an advertisement served to achieve. It neither sold the product very well nor did it appeal to its intended audiences.  No wonder it caused so many issues.






It should be no shock that using current political battles to sell something is going to get you nowhere. Unfortunately, the advertising people at Marmite were clearly not aware of this very obvious fact.

Utilising their “you either love it or hate it” campaign was taken a bit too far with this ad. The General election of 2010 was spoofed by Marmite into two Love and Hate party ads. The latter promoting the deportation of marmite and the former stating that this is all just an utter lie. By parodying the election, it had obviously expected to garner attention; instead, it just received multitudes of complaints.





Ford Sportka

The Ford KA was released in 1996 and was seen as a very smooth and economical car. The SportKA needed to be its complete opposite in that it was very tough and sturdy. So, this stirred up an ad to just show how SportKA was like Ford KA’s evil twin.


Unfortunately, the wickedness of the twin was a bit exaggerated. The ad featured a pigeon flying down and placing itself on the car’s bonnet. Before you know it, the bonnet flies up and smashes the pigeon right into the ground. It was of no surprise that the animal rights campaigns began its protest as soon as they laid eyes on this horrific ad.






As you can see, it is not that difficult for an advert to go completely over the line. Including the shock factor in an attempt to make your ad go viral can have unfortunate consequences. Though most of us love a bit of controversy, I’m certain we couldn’t help but cringe at some of these adverts.


Can you think of any more ads that pretty much made every activist campaign on the hunt for these trouble makers? Share in the comments? 

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