Best In Cringeworthy Ads
Who loves being completely uncomfortable? We do! Whether you agree or not, ads that push the envelope are always going to grab our attention. Just think about the types of things you click on when scrolling through your social media feeds. You probably know more about whatever drama is plaguing the Kardashians than you know about current world events, and we don’t blame you. Why? Because watching people causing drama is entertaining. People are generally attracted to some sort of chaos and brands know this. So to get your attention, brands try to outdo one another by committing some pretty serious and cringeworthy crimes against our eyeballs. Some things just can’t be unseen!
In some cases, advertisers don’t necessarily care if they get attention for the right or the wrong reasons so long as people are talking about their brand. Believe it or not, some of these brands saw influxes in sales due to their bad taste in advertisements while others faced backlash from human rights groups and ethics committees. We scoured the internet to gather some of the most tasteless, crass and unsettling ads out there. So, get ready to be offended and lets dig into what some of these guys are doing to make the world at large cringe.
This commercial tackles a very serious conversation about home safety and preparedness. And by way of pulling on your heartstrings, does an excellent job at delivering that message. On any average day, this commercial might have just slipped on by undetected, but this powerful commercial received a ton of backlash. Why? Because this tearjerker aired during the Super Bowl game. This event simply wasn’t the venue for such a serious (and depressing) topic, especially as depicted by this commercial. Talk about throwing a wet blanket on an otherwise fun event.
The Man in the High Castle
What would the world be like if the Nazis won the war? That’s exactly what Amazon was trying to recreate by promoting their alternate reality show The Man in the High Castle. This guerrilla marketing subway takeover smeared Swastika clad Nazi and Imperial Japanese flags all over, well pretty much everywhere your butt touches. Public backlash was inevitable as commuters stated that they need not be reminded of two of the most brutal regimes in world history. NYC Mayor deBlasio and Governor Cuomo also commented on the bad taste of this campaign.
Let us know when you are done being offended… We’ll wait. The story behind this debacle is quite interesting. We get that the fashion industry caters to a very young and very distracted audience and in order to break through the noise, Sisely tried to push the envelope to get attention. Well they got it. Turns out that this ad from the fashion house was so offensive that they denied any involvement in it’s creation whatsoever. This ad depicting models snorting what seems to be a tank top off of a table is blatantly suggestive of drug use. Although we can’t deny how cleverly it was photographed, the poor message this sends to young consumers far outweighs it’s attempts at being creative.
Because you’re not a woman unless you are completely hairless at all times, am I right ladies? This commercial was banned in many countries including the US, Canada and some parts of Europe. The message “Dont Risk Dudeness” pretty much communicates that if a woman has any sort of stubble on her legs, she risks her femininity and will pretty much be considered a man. Needless to say this didn’t sit well with women as a whole (duh!) as well as in cultures where women aren’t pressured to shave their legs.
Dunkin’ Donut’s Charcoal Donut
We’re cringing just looking at this. This Thai ad received public backlash for it’s blatant use of blackface. Blackface was commonly used in the 19th & 20th centuries as a way to theatrically depict stereotypes of black people, which is now considered highly offensive and a symbol of a racist era in America. The CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts in Thailand saw absolutely nothing wrong with the ads. “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said CEO Nadim Salhani. “We’re not allowed to use black to promote our doughnuts? I don’t get it. What’s the big fuss? What if the product was white and I painted someone white, would that be racist?” Ultimately the ads were pulled and the CEO still suffers from a severe case of cluelessness.
United Colors of Benetton
This fashion brand is known for their risky ad choices and this one was no exception. In this Ad, Benetton takes aim at capitol punishment by featuring death row inmates. Benetton actively tackles human rights issues in its ad campaigns and topics range from racism to women’s rights and beyond. These portraits were an attempt to humanize these individuals, many of which are convicted of horrendous murders. The ads faced backlash from the families of the victims and many others who are on the side of the victims. We admit that this ad generates a plethora of mixed feelings, but that won’t stop Benetton from pushing buttons in the future.
OK, this has to be an ad from the 1950’s or 60’s, right? Wrong! This monstrosity reared it’s ugly head in 2008! Seriously? The fact that someone at BMW Headquarters though it a good idea to use the image of a beautiful woman to be synonymous with the purchase of a used car makes us rage-cringe. The sad part was that despite the public backlash, BMW saw an increase in used car sales and gained more fans than it lost during the run of this ad. Now, what does that say about BMW drivers ladies and gentleman?