Controversial Advertising

Advertising has the opportunity to make a statement about a brand and who they are, but what about the times that advertising companies go too far? There have been many examples of controversial advertising that have done more harm then good when it comes to their product. Advertising is a powerful tool, and companies have to remember to use this tool conscientiously. Controversial advertising has included advertising that abuses or exploits minorities and tragedies.

            One example of controversial advertising is the PSP “White is Coming” campaign pictured below. As you can see, this advertisement pictures a white female strangling a black female.  People were heated when they saw this advertisement arguing it has clear racist connotations. The use of race and domination of one race over the other in this advertisement is the main issue that caused such a stir and controversy.   Sony commented on the ad stating “all of the 100 or so images created for the campaign have been designed to show [the] contrast in colours of the PSPs, and have no other message or purpose.” They did, however, pull the ad because of the reaction the consumers had to the advertisement.


            Another ad that has been publicly criticized for its controversial messages is Hyudai’s European ad called “Pipe Job”. This commercial features a man sitting in a closed garage with his car running, apparently attempting to commit suicide. The commercial ends with the man opening the garage and a tag line stating “the new ix35 with 100% water emissions” appearing. The public was outraged stating that suicide is an issue that is not to be made fun of. Even Hyudai America commented on the outrage that the ad created stating “we at Hyundai Motor America are shocked and saddened by the depiction of a suicide attempt in an inappropriate UK video featuring a Hyundai. Suicide merits thoughtful discussion, not this type of treatment.” Following is a link to this commercial, which has now been pulled.

Another campaign that was very controversial is the Dr. Pepper 10 “it’s not for women” campaign. In it’s advertising, Dr. Pepper targets men who they claim in the past have not been as satisfied with the taste of diet drinks. The commercials feature men doing stereotypically “manly” things while drinking Dr. Pepper Ten. They claim that they are trying to change the target audience, and that “women get the joke”. Other people say it is sexist to say that it is not for women. There is also a Facebook group exclusively for men. With sexism prevalent in society, people are questioning whether this controversial ad is appropriate.




“Engadget.” Engadget. 22 Jan. 2014 <;.

“Hyundai – “Pipe Job” – Innocean Worldwide Europe :” 24 Jan. 2014 <;.

“Hyundai Thinks Suicide Should Help Sell Cars: The Pipe Job Ad | World of Psychology.” Psych 24 Jan. 2014 <;.

Johnson, Margaret Wheeler. “Dr Pepper Ten: Because Men Don’t Drink Diet Soda?” The Huffington Post. 10 Oct. 2011. 24 Jan. 2014 <;.

Stuart, Keith. “Sony ad provokes race accusations.” 05 July 2006. Guardian News and Media. 24 Jan. 2014 <;.

“What Were They Thinking” Commercial: Hyundai “Pipe Job”” – Video. 24 Jan. 2014 <;.

4 thoughts on “Controversial Advertising

  1. I’m completely shocked by the PSP ad, it seems insane that an ad agency wouldn’t see the blatant problem with that sort of message. Things that breech on racism or anything similar, in my opinion, always go too far. It’s advertising like this that can be incredibly hurtful to a company’s image, not only does it make consumers not want to buy a product, it also creates an extremely negative brand image. Racism, sexism, discrimination of any kind should not take part in advertising.


  2. When I saw that PSP ad I couldn’t help but think to myself what kinds of idiot would let that run? It just shocks me on so many levels how ads get passed so many people without anyone speaking up about it. I think companies can go too far and in this case they did and I can’t honestly believe they didn’t see the overtly racist aspects of the ad. As for the Dr. Pepper ad, I actually didn’t think it was that bad. I can see how people could get offended, but at the same time I think it is such a direct invitation for both men and women to try the product in a creative way. However with risk comes the possibility of controversy.


  3. It was very shocked to see that they would actually run this type of commercials without having someone think of the consequences before. I feel sometimes agencies try so hard to be “creative” and “different” that they don’t realize how the commercials they run can cause them to loose customers or consumers. I remember when the Dr. Pepper commercial ran on air and we discussed it in all of my Ad and PR classes and seeing the controversy they created. Although many people got offended, they got many attention.


  4. Pingback: Controversial Advertising – whobitmyappleblog

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