Controversial Advertising

For this week’s blog post I focused on a very interesting and previously untouched issue of, for the lack of a better term, ‘edgy advertising’. I mean this not in the sense that the advertisement itself is possibly incendiary but instead what it is attempting to sell. There are a lot of products that we use on a regular basis that walk the line of being seen as possibly offensive or hard to talk about. This presents a very unique dilemma for advertisers.


Think for example condom advertisements. Sex is still a taboo topic that many people would rather not talk about in a public forum. Seeing as advertisements live in public forums it makes the job of those trying to sell the product a bit tricky. The ads need to pique the interest of those observing them but also need to make sure those watching don’t get uncomfortable. Without doing this advertisers run the risk of scaring off customers or making them look away. All we have to do is look at Trojan’s “pig” advertisements in recent years. In an attempt to sell condoms to women Trojan came up with the concept that men that don’t use Trojan condoms are pigs. While the idea is clever, the commercials were awkward. They made people want to look away, not even touching on making them want to buy the product.


Another front that has yet to be explored is that of advertising things like marijuana. With the recent legalization in a few states advertising agencies and marijuana companies are itching to traverse into that territory. The only problem it seems though, is the laws surrounding this type of advertising. Recently a few media outlets have actually sued Colorado for not allowing the advertising of weed.


I don’t necessarily disagree with this idea, I don’t see why companies shouldn’t be allowed to advertise their product in a public forum. Seeing as it’s legal it makes sense. Not only this but as some of the commenters on a previous blog post have pointed out, audience is incredibly important. College kids, young adults etc are not the audience to aim for. Instead, aiming for an untapped market3 like that of working professionals at an older bracket could be incredibly beneficial. This group of people is the type of people that would actually spend decent money on a product if they believed it to be worth what it was advertised for. It’s for this reason that marijuana advertising could be incredibly lucrative and successful. 

2 thoughts on “Controversial Advertising

  1. I agree that controversial ads have to be done right in order to get people’s attention, not to look away. As for the ads about weed, I don’t think marketing towards people who are already using it is useless. Many people are still buying illegally in Colorado due to their questioning the safety of it. Ads can show everyone, even the markets already in it, that it’s safe to buy legally.


  2. I agree with your post above. I find it interesting, too, about the marijuana advertising thing. I believe they don’t want it advertised because they don’t want it reaching young kids to start wanting the product. While many may feel that weed is not dangerous, it’s still associated with being a “gate-way drug” whether it’s a true assessment or not. I think this is why advertising it is so controversial.

    Alcohol could be argued, but you have to be 21 to buy that. I don’t know if there is a “legal age” for marijuana in the states it was legalized in and so that may be the reason for the hubbub.


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