Sometimes the world of marketing can take things a little too far. Adverts are sometimes created to shock – and shock is what they do! If they are too offensive to certain groups of audience, they get banned, plain and simple. However, it would be a shame if these adverts never saw the light of day (or as a matter of fact, your eyes!) as they are far more hilarious than usual advertising. So here are the best few floating around on the net.

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Courage Beer

Courage Beer Advertisement Design
Three people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that the poster connoted that beer granted the man the confidence to either a) take advantage of the woman, or b) insult her. The ASA banned the adverts on the ground that the adverts implied that the beer gave the man courage in order to tell the woman her dress was unflattering. Submitting these complaints could have been three women who had big bums, however it remains un-clarified.


Barnardo’s Advertisement Design
Barnardo’s Advertisement Design
Barnardo’s is a children’s charity, who constantly campaigns in effort to end child poverty and abuse. These specific adverts were printed in English newspapers before the ASA asked for them to never be reprinted in any other means. The adverts show a cockroach crawling out of a baby’s mouth, and a bottle of chemicals in the other, with the tagline ‘there are no silver spoons for children born into poverty’. The adverts were seen as ‘offensive, shocking and unduly distressing especially if seen by children’. Barnado’s stuck by their advertisements, claiming that distress was needed to bring attention to the issue – as any road-safety or anti-smoking campaign would do.

Droits des Non Fumeurs

Smoking Advertisement Design
In this advert, anti-smoking organisation Droits de Non Fumeurs draw a comparison between the submissive nature of teenagers smoking and giving oral sex. However, much debate was raised as to the moral nature of using sex to gain negative attention in the media leading it to be banned in France.

PlayStation 3

Playstation 3 Advertisement Design
In 2010, a certain PlayStation Move print ad was banned after 8 people complained to the ASA. The advert was deemed that it was far too violent for British audiences and that the image might ‘condone or encourage violent behaviour’. Two of the eight people complained that the advert was racist, a white man dominating a black man – however there really is not too much in difference in their skin colour in the advert. Sony defended their advert, and stated that they had: ‘Taken Steps to ensure that the images were not graphic’.


Skins Advertisement Design
The ASA banned one of the print ads for an upcoming series of Skins on Channel 4 in the UK. The ad shows the character Michelle teetering on the edge of a bed with smeared makeup, surrounded by naked bodies in just her underwear. 42 complaints were made to the ASA, all offended by the ‘orgy’ of nudity – and the effect it would have on their children if seen. The ASA banned the advert because it ‘condones and/or encourages underage sex’. Channel 4 defended their poster, claiming it was an ‘emotionally charged and vivid portrayal of young adults in Bristol’.

United Colours of Benetton

United Colours of Benetton Advertisement Design
United Colours of Benetton Advertisement Design
This global brand loves nothing less than a bit of controversy, and most of all to be discussed for it. In this campaign ‘Kissy Kissy’ denotes global leaders such as the Pope and Barack Obama, well, kissing each other. Benetton withdrew its advertising campaign after they received complaints from the Whitehouse and the Vatican: “absolutely unacceptable use of the image of the Holy Father, manipulated and exploited in a publicity campaign with commercial ends.” United Colours of Benetton stated that the ads were used ‘solely to battle the culture of hate in all its forms’. Well it was worth a try, aye!

Patrick Cox

Patrick Cox Advertisement Design
In 2003, the ASA banned a print advert in ‘ID’ magazine from shoe designer Patrick Cox – after they received complaints that it displayed an act of ‘buggery’. The ASA condoned the advert as potentially causing serious offence and banned it from being printed or used again. Patrick Cox defended its advert saying it was ‘less overtly sexual than other advertising in the same issue [of the magazine]’. However, the ASA were having none of this and stated that 5% of ID magazine’s readers were 15-17 and were too young to view it.


Oreo Advertisement Design
Clearly representing just how well Oreo’s and milk go together, this ad went viral back in April for reasons that remain obvious. After it began to make circulation around the web, Kraft Foods announced the breastfeeding baby ad was never meant for the public eye, and was created for one-time use at an advertising convention by their agency, Cheil Worldwide. Whether this was ‘accidentally’ slipped into the public domain is down to discretion, but there’s no denying the amount of publicity (good or bad) this has driven towards Oreo.

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