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10 Ads That Created Controversy
We list the ads that made you cringe.
Published on: Jun 27, 2012 - 7:00am


( Yes, we get it. Ads are made to sell products. But sometimes there are ads that steal the show from the goods. That happens when the ads are either ahead of their time or when they rub people the wrong way. We picked the most recent ones that had people talking—or signing petitions.


Please refer to the controversy rating scale below:

1 - It's only controversial because it's ahead of its time.
2 - It inadvertently offends a certain group of people.
3 - It's risqué and gets mixed reactions.
4 - It's misleading because it sells a baffling notion.
5 - It's so unacceptable that protests have been launched against it.




What it wants to say: This worldwide marketing campaign, which was launched in 2004, wanted women to be comfortable and feel beautiful in their own skin. It encouraged the public to participate by asking them what they thought of the models featured in the posters and billboards.

The opposite effect: Let's face it, a number of Pinoys have unbelieveable standards of beauty even if they themselves aren't beautiful. The ads may have been enlightened but not everyone else was open to the idea of calling someone who didn't have a well-endowed chest area or anyone who was Rubenesque as "beautiful." (Shame on them!)

The verdict: The ad wanted to redefine the concept of beauty. Unfortunately, the public was not ready for that. Bottom line: Yes, the more enlightened crowd got this ad campaign, but narrow-minded people didn't. The ad's intent was not controversial, it was only its effect on the narrow-minded populace that created the "controversial buzz." Please refer to the controversy rating scale that appears in the introduction of this article.

Controversy rating: 1




The message: They tapped Sharon Cuneta to tell parents to join their kids at meal times...or else bad things will happen. Cuneta points out, "Studies show that the less often we eat with our children, the more likely they are to smoke, drink and use drugs when they grow up." There's even a specific day for celebrating meal time with the family: September 28.

The opposite effect: In a country that's known for sending out so many workers overseas, this ad may be seen as insensitive. Parents working in industries with irregular working hours may also feel slighted. In fact, blogger Noemi Lardizabal-Dado revealed in a post that this ad was the subject of debate in a discussion about Republic Act No. 9710, which is known as the "Magna Carta of Women." Lardizabal-Dado noted that the Women Media Circle "initiated consultations and discussions about the provisions in the law's Chapter IV Section 16, which discusses "Nondiscriminatory and Non-derogatory Portrayal of Women in Media and Film." Lardizabal-Dado then talked about the paticipants' reaction to the ad: "We all agreed that the ad discriminates against the OFWs, the working parents and others who can’t make it early during dinner time."

The verdict: The ad has good intentions. They just forgot to add a dose of compassion for parents who have to go out of the country to make sure their kids would have something to eat.

Controversy rating: 2




What it wants to say: It features a little girl and a little boy and their hilarious views about relationships. It's set up as a candid encounter that's supposed to make everyone go "Awwww" and recall their childhood. The little girl's concept of having a boyfriend is limited to having the little boy buy her some McDonald's french fries.

The opposite effect: The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said that the ad sends the wrong message to children. McDonald's pulled out the ads.

The verdict: The ad was an innocent vignette. Unfortunately, the CBCP thought it was promoting sin.

Controversy rating: 2


Screenshot of photo from the blog of Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. The original photo was uploaded on her blog in July 2006.


What it wants to say: In 2006, the telecommunications firm wanted to tell everyone that they get the job done. They attempted to be cool in this endeavor.

The opposite effect: The look on the woman's face in the billboard makes people think that it's not just her phone line that's making It doesn't help that there's some sort of makeshift moon behind her. People who saw this billboard were probably wondering if Bayantel was engaged in "steamy" business ventures.

The verdict: If you're a telecommunications firm, do you really a need to sex up your ads? Sure, it gets attention...but it's got absolutely nothing to do with what you're selling. Bayantel probably realized this so the billboard was taken down before a protest could be organized against it.

Controversy rating: 3




What it wants to say: The ad wanted to showcase Bench Body underwear and encourage people "throw their support" behind the country's rugby team, the Philippine Volcanoes. For maximum exposure, the billboards were set up along EDSA-Guadalupe.

The opposite effect: The people definitely stared at the billboards, but it wasn't clear if they were focusing on the nifty Bench Body undies or the members of the rugby team who served as the models for the undies. There were those who appreciated the eye candy. There were also others like Mandaluyong City Mayor Benhur Abalos, who said the sight of the barely-dressed Volcanoes players would disturb the children who saw them. However, Abalos didn't really explain how children reacted to the ads.

The verdict: The billboards definitely scored. Alas, Bench was forced to have them taken down.

Controversy rating: 3

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  • Sunny Disposition
    I think everybody did give Bayo such a hard time when at the height of Kamiseta's true foreigner hollywood endorsers, they countered with their "Proud to be Pinay" campaign. Everone had that tee back then, it became bigger than Kamiseta's campaign. Nevertheless Penshoppe, Bench followed suite with Kamiseta's hollywood celebs - but Bayo never compromised. The only real Pinoy pride trend in retail after that was Team Manila and Collezione's map shirts. Let's all just blame it on the terrible ad copy. Bayo's done more good for Pinoys than this blip of bad.
    Aug 29 2012 @ 10:19pm     Reply  
  • heidelberg
    @Really... Mawalang galang lang, but isn't this article dated June 27, 2012 pa? That's ages ago. Are you expressing your anger belatedly? Or did you do a Google search and then just picked a site where you could spew your rage? Baka gutom lang yan. Or galit sa boss mo. Cheer up naman. Whatever evil event happened to you noong June 27, move on na. It's already August. :)
    Aug 03 2012 @ 12:24pm     Reply  
  • Really?
    Once again, it is slow news day for Spot. Can't you have better articles (or writers)? Making up a list just to beat a deadline, it seems. If you can't come up with at least a well-researched list then don't even bother writing at all. Seriously, you guys are writing articles about ads that supposedly created controversies or are these alleged controversies a figment of your own imagination? And with a rating at that!
    Aug 02 2012 @ 04:11pm     Reply  
  • Don Gepot
    Yung MCDONALD'S — "BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND" AD ang hinayang na hinayang na hinayang ako. Pinakabobong pang-eepal ng CBCP.
    Jul 01 2012 @ 04:04am     Reply  
  • Bloopee
    Hi @Bloopee, check the article itself. 5 of the 10 campaigns links to news articles/blogs that somehow verify Spot's claim that they are controversial. And for the rest: McDo's BF/GF ad, I saw the news on TV. Block & White, I have read about this on an opinion piece in Rappler. DOT campaign, saw the news on TV, of course.

    The Dove Campaign and Famealy Day write-ups do not link to anywhere, and I haven't heard of any negative reactions towards these campaigns, that's why I'm asking to provide. I wouldn't ask if I've seen them somewhere. :)
    Jun 27 2012 @ 01:31pm     Reply  
  • toyang
    i have to agree with bloopee. some of the statements need to be properly attributed.

    like in the famealy day campaign > "In a country that's known for sending out so many workers overseas, this ad may be seen as insensitive. Parents working in industries with irregular working hours may also feel slighted." > may be seen as insensitive? so nobody really saw it as insensitive just yet? so what was the point of including it in the list and branding them as controversial?

    in the dove campaign > "...not everyone else was open to the idea of calling someone who didn't have a well-endowed chest area or anyone who was Rubenesque as "beautiful." > who are these people, exactly?

    @ @bloopee, not trying to nitpick here. syempre online kasi it has to be something that we could click on and read. if spot will provide scanned articles or whatever type of proof they have to back their statements up, then okay din yon.
    Jun 27 2012 @ 10:54am     Reply  
  • @Bloopee
    so basically meron online "proof" ang other 8 ads? and yung famealy day and dove lang ang wala? could you provide us the proofs (somewhere in the online world, of course) of the other 8?
    Jun 27 2012 @ 10:35am     Reply  
  • Bloopee
    Hey, can you link an online article or two to the Dove Campaign and FaMealy Day write-ups which talks about how controversial they are? These 2 campaigns are considered as successful campaigns in advertising & marketing classes; Famealy Day was even a grandslam winner in Tambuli IMC Awards.

    I just want proof that somewhere in the online world, a group of people believed that these are really controversial (ahead of time and offensive, respectively), just like the other campaigns (which were linked to other articles). Maybe you can provide solid facts, rather than just opinions by the writer?
    Jun 27 2012 @ 09:37am     Reply  
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