While it is common for advertisers to create risqué campaigns in order to attract the attention of viewers, sometimes these commercials can cross the line from boundary-pushing to downright offensive.
Obviously, offensiveness is subjective, so specific ads may make you angry, make you laugh or even make you feel nothing at all. Regardless, here are 8 commercials with questionable content that are bound to at least make you ask, “How was that supposed to sell THAT?”:
1. This new camera ad has an unusual way of advertising its device’s picture quality: making an ad featuring military torture and a firing squad. While a midway twist renders the commercial less bleak than you’d expect, I doubt too many people are won over enough to purchase the product after this distasteful display.
2. Paddy Power ventured into some transphobic territory when it tries to quickly pick out transgendered ladies in a crowd. The ad is bound to offend since it treats gender identity as an object of ridicule, and the supposed “hilarity” is easily lost as they label some female-appearing individuals men and one person a “dog.”
3. A narrator with an exaggerated Chinese accent teases an animated baby who can’t manage to eat Jello with chopsticks. “Who do Chinese people use such funny objects anyway?”, seems to be the implication. Fortunately, the baby is finally given a spoon – a utensil referred to as a “Western invention” (fun fact: it’s not) – so he can eat his gelatinous dessert. While you may think Western countries wouldn’t dare imitate Eastern culture for comic effect these days…
4. … Ashton Kutcher may just prove you wrong as he does brown-face for a potato chip company. His impression of an Indian man definitely shows a lack of sensitivity, if not also a flawed sense of humor. (Click link to watch.)
5. Does the idea of evil dictators frolicking playfully upset you? Then you might want to avoid this Nando’s chicken ad, which portrays Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s controversial former leader cavorting with other corrupt world figures like Saddam Hussein, Mao Zedong and Muammar Gaddafi. It works as a piece of political satire, but its flippant attitude toward its subjects in the name of selling chicken understandably ruffled some feathers.
6. One political statement I can’t get behind, however, is Rick Perry’s presidential campaign ad. Criticizing gays in the military and fabricating a supposed war on religion, Perry still makes me shudder… until I remember that this ad contributed to the demise of Perry’s candidacy.
7. How does a woman become a slim, attractive, subservient housewife? Why by drinking Pepsi, of course! I’m sure this ad wasn’t nearly as offensive as it should have been in 1957, but by today’s standards, it’s pretty terrible. This commercial isn’t just selling a soft drink, it’s peddling a backwards female identity.
8. Goodyear makes some really solid tires that… LOOK OUT, THERE’S A WOMAN ON THE ROAD! Oh my goodness, who thought it would be a good idea to give women licenses? As offensive as this ad must have been, it’s hard not to chuckle at the thought of someone using such a blatantly sexist campaign to market a product today.