8 Most Controversial Ads Of Our Time That Overshadowed Their Brands

Most Controversial Ads Of Our Time

June 13th, 2019   |   Updated on January 3rd, 2021

Controversial ads have always triggered strong response and driven widespread engagement, both the same time. Some ads had to be pulled, while others continued to play despite widespread protest and outrage they evoked.

Have A Look At These Controversial Ads

1. Pepsi: ‘Live For Now’ (2017)

Pepsi’s ‘Live For Now’ ad was pulled by the soft drink retailer in less than 24 hours of its premiere.

The two-and-a-half-minute-long video sees an ethnically diverse, color-coordinated crowd of young people staging a protest before supermodel Kendall Jenner steps in with her can of Pepsi to stop police brutality and save the day.

The ad sparked widespread derision.

2. United Colors Of Benetton’s Unhate Campaign

Benedict XVI kissing Egypt's Imam Ahmed el Tayeb.

The adverts caused a stir after they featured manipulated images of world leaders locking lips.

The two billboards pictured show China’s Hu Jintao with Barack Obama, and Pope Benedict XVI kissing Egypt’s Imam Ahmed el Tayeb.

3. Protein World – Are You Beach Body Ready?

Protein World

When an advert appeared on the London Underground in 2015 asking people whether they were “beach body ready,” it caused uproar.

It promoted allegations of “body-shaming” and “encouraging women to starve themselves”

4. McDonald’s – The Dead Dad Ad

McDonald’s in 2017 had to pull an ad in the UK about a widow and her son after it received backlash from viewers who said it was insensitive to grieving kids.

In the ad, which was viewed beyond the UK after it went viral online, a mother describes the ways her son differs from his late father. The one thing they have in common: a love of McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches.

5. Lynx – Full Control

Lynx - Full control

In 2011, Six adverts for Lynx men’s toiletries were banned. Many complainants said an ad for Lynx shower gel was sexually suggestive.

The poster for Lynx shower gel showed a woman in a bikini under a shower at a beach, with the headline: “The cleaner you are the dirtier you get.”

6. Diesel – Be Stupid

UK ad watchdog for being offensive and encouraging antisocial behaviour

A campaign for Diesel that won a top award at the Cannes advertising festival in 2010 was immediately banned by the UK ad watchdog for being offensive and encouraging antisocial behavior.

The campaign featured a number of ads including one with a girl on a stepladder flashing her breasts at a CCTV camera, while another features a woman holding open her bikini bottoms and taking a photo of her nether regions.

7. Gillette: ‘We Believe’

A new Gillette commercial calling out “toxic masculinity” sparked both praise for and criticism of the razor company.

The new “We Believe” ad — a 48-second spot that Gillette shared on its social media accounts in January 2019 — plays on the company’s tagline of “Is this the best a man can get?” to address issues like bullying, sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement.

8. Dove’s Facebok Ad

Dove's Facebok Ad

The champion of ‘real beauty’ has come under in 2017 for “whitewashing”. In a Facebook ad for Dove body wash, the brand chose to portray a black woman removing her top and metamorphosizing into a white woman after using the product. The ad was removed by Dove and the brand publicly apologized for its misdemeanor.