A series of politically incorrect marketing campaigns

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Poster pulled by Nike following Oscar Pistorius' murder trial. Nike advert read 'I am the bullet in the chamber'

Intended to shock, inspire and receive the socially acceptable nod are the following marketing campaigns. Problem is, they’re all rather politically incorrect.

1. Minimum Wage Barbie

I assume this was to initially encourage young girls to aspire to be better than Barbie – what this really could have ended up doing is crushing dreams all over the world. Comments made on a post on I Waste So Much Time spanned quite the discussion:

“Bubbles: Dude I actually had a McDonalds Barbie when I was little! Don’t underestimate Barbie, she is wonder woman… she can be anything from a minimum wage worker to an astronaut.”

“HKP2KSK: The sad thing is, even with a degree, this is still happening to people because of today’s economy.”

“trinitybird: in these days a job at McDonalds is better than nothing. At least it shows they’re trying to do something.”

Image of Minimum Wage Barbie in her original box wearing a McDonald's uniform and apron surrounded by McDonalds props

2. Cellophane

A series of cellophane adverts were released over 70 years ago with some rather controversial images of babies wrapped in cellophane. Other posters boasted how ‘dainty women prefer intimate garments in “Cellophane”‘ and that cellophane ‘insures smoking pleasure’.

Two babies sit wrapped up in cellophane like a present with the caption, 'good things are twice as good in cellophane'

3. Lysol

Seriously speechless. What does it mean to ‘doubt’ your feminine hygiene, exactly?

Marketing campaign by Lysol advertises to women to maintain their feminine hygeine

4. Magnet’s Universal Food Chopper

I can literally feel vegetarians squirming all over the world. An actual pig is being chopped up, with a couple of lambs following suit. That chopper sure is powerful?

Poster for MAGNET's Universal Food Chopper shows a group of swirling animals and vegetables circling in to the food chopper with a pig going in head first.

5. Colt

Can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel this Christmas? No worries, according to Colt, you can treat yourself with your very own handgun.

Advert for Colt shows a handgun next to a tag that reads 'isn't it time you gave yourself a Christmas gift?'

6. Tawny Port

Tawny Port had their hearts in the right place, but their heads in another. Curing one addiction with another addiction is not helping anybody!

Poster aimed at alcoholics replaces booze with drugs as a 'cure'

7. Motorola

Probably one of the lesser offensive marketing campaigns in the pack, but, in modern times, Motorola are very unlikely to use this tactic to sell TVs again. Nice to see the ‘homework now, television later’ tactic still works.

Vintage poster advertising Motorola Television suggests that TV is a great learning resource for your children

8. Lard

Oh bless their little cotton socks – they’re young and in love. But wait – they’re about to experience a heart attack 20 years later when they release eating lard in large amounts can kill you. Still, so cute.

Vintage poster advertising lard reads, 'they're young, they're in love, they eat lard" with a couple holding up two glasses

9. Danish Frisbee Sports Union

Although the message is true; life does seem more fun when frisbees are involved, I can’t help but ignore the obvious political incorrectness of the Danish Frisbee Sports Union’s advert.

politically incorrect advert shows a photo of Hitler doing the sign with his hand whilst a frisbee flies off

10. Grove Tonic

If anyone knows the relevance to a baby’s head being plastered onto a pigs, please, let me know.

Poster set in the 1800s shows a child's face placed onto a pig's body with the caption 'makes children and adults as fat as pigs' - advert for Grove's tonic

11. Pancreatic Cancer Action

Intended to add shock value, Pancreatic Cancer Action’s poster hit controversy in 2014 with their “I wish I had breast cancer” campaign. The advert saw complaints flood in, regards to assuming having breast cancer was better than pancreatic cancer.

2014 controversial advert says 'i wish i had breast cancer'

12. Dairy Milk

Just if they used a white female ‘diva’ for their white chocolate adverts, you can see where the controversy unfolded following this marketing campaign aimed at supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Poster advertising Dairy Milk's bliss bar. Text reads, "move over Naomi, there's a new diva in town."

13. Ford

This advert was aimed at the Indian market and soon hit widespread controversy. Other images included 3 women stashed in the boot and hogtied – of which Ford was then accused of sexual discrimination. This resulted in Ford pulling the campaign entirely and admitting it should have never been printed.

Graphic art of a boot of the Ford Figo with Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton tied in the boot

14. Pepsi

The voodoo doll was actually supposed to be Cristiano Ronaldo in this Pepsi Max advert. The advert was aired on TV with Real Madrid’s fans reacting to it by threatening to boycott the drink.

Still image taken from controversial Pepsi advert shows a voodoo doll made to look like Cristiano Ronaldo laying on train tracks

15. Nike

The advert was featured before the murder trial of his late-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Subsequently, Nike pulled the advert from all official sources. The advert was no longer deemed appropriate due to the text on the poster which read, “I am the bullet in the chamber”.

Poster pulled by Nike following Oscar Pistorius' murder trial. Nike advert read 'I am the bullet in the chamber'

6 COMMENTS

  1. Some are funny, but some, like Lysol are so disturbing – sad that people could ever be encouraged hate their true beings so. Or is that all advertising is about?

  2. Some of these are pretty funny like the frisbee one, I always find it funny when they advertised things as ‘hip’ and ‘good for you’ and then now they are all things we avoid like the plague lol.

  3. Some are only inappropriate because times have changed since they were published, so nobody’s to blame but others are new and how on earth did they get by all the people necessary to be published without at least one of them saying REALLY!!!! NO!!!!.

    • Yes – half of the marketing campaigns were ok back in their day, but I was shocked to see the more modern versions. I think, sometimes, marketers are aware of the offence their campaigns may cause, but run with it anyway for the publicity.

  4. Ive never seen the Barbie one before, but it made me laugh! The Colt one and the Danish Frisbee one are so inappropriate that you have to smile! How did these get past test audiences?

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