5 Most Controversial Ads of All Time

There’s no denying it that advertisements are the most effective way to reach a large number of people in the shortest time possible. Aware of that, many companies aren’t afraid to make waves, creating ads that cause a ruckus and become the talk of the nation, or maybe even the world. In this article, we have shortlisted those ads into the top 5 TV adverts, that is so out of the box that we can’t help but shake our head in disbelief, in a good way or another.

1. Paddy Power: Blind Football

An advert by Paddy Power showing a blind footballer kicking a cat across a pitch was the most complained about advert in the UK in 2010. People complained it was both offensives to blind people and could encourage animal cruelty. But the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) said it was surreal and light-hearted in tone. The cat was also shown unharmed at the end of the advert. It decided the advert was unlikely to encourage or condone cruelty to animals or cause serious or widespread offense.

2. Microsoft X-Box: Champagne

In 2002, Microsoft’s X-Box made a controversial ad that showed a man crashing into his own grave. The 47-second ad started with a woman giving birth to a baby who soon flew rapidly out of the window into the air like a rocket and grew up in a short amount of time into an old man before falling violently into his grave. The message was fairly simple: Life is short. Play more. This ad was soon banned in the UK because it received so many complaints from the viewers, who regarded the ad as offensive, shocking, and in bad taste.

3. Dove: Real Beauty Campaign

According to Dove, 75 percent of women felt that advertising and media set unrealistic standards of beauty. The company then started its Real Beauty campaign in 2004, with an award-winning Real Beauty Sketches – in which a forensic artist draws women based only their own description of themselves and then draws another one based on other people’s perspectives. It aimed to show the ‘real beauty’ to women, who often felt insecure about themselves. This particular campaign has caused quite a stir especially in women, who felt emotional when watching it. It was so popular and controversial that many even made parodies of it; one of them featured men, instead of women.

4. Hyundai: Pipe Job

The advert for the Hyundai iX35 depicts a man who looks as if to be attempting suicide, but doesn’t succeed because the iX35′s emissions are, apparently, mainly comprised of water. It received mass complaints as Hyundai was seen as insensitive and offensive to use materials like suicide to sell products and was eventually pulled.

5. Zazoo’s Condom

Made in 2004 by a Belgium condom company, the ad depicts a child screaming in a supermarket because he wants sweeties. The boy child makes a scene in the supermarket, attracting people’s attention with his father standing still looking at his son. The tagline “use condoms” appears. Although it was deemed acceptable in Belgium, this Duval Guillaume advert was banned in most European countries and the US.