10 Ads That Created Controversy

We list the ads that made you cringe.

 

(SPOT.ph) 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.

 

 

10. DOVE - CAMPAIGN FOR TRUE BEAUTY SERIES

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

 

 

9. LUCKY ME! - MAKE EVERYDAY FA-MEAL-Y DAY AD

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."

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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

 

 

8. MCDONALD’S - "BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND" AD

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.


7. BAYANTEL - "SATISFACTION GUARANTEE" AD

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 her...er...happy. 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

 

 

6. BENCH - PHILIPPINE VOLCANOES BENCH BODY BILLBOARDS

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.

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

Controversy rating: 3

 

5. BLOCK & WHITE - "SKATER GIRL" AD

What it wants to say: Most Pinay girls want their skin to be white because they think that’s more desirable. The ad dramatized this by showing two girls dragging giving their tanned friend, who loves to skate, a makeover. That, of course, includes applying the whitening lotion.

The opposite effect: The ad had a cheerful vibe but its message irked a lot of people. What’s wrong with being tan anyway?

The verdict: The ad was just giving its target audience what it wanted. Let’s face it, whitening products are hot in this country.

Controversy rating: 4

 

 

4. BAYO - "WHAT’S YOUR MIX?" AD CAMPAIGN

What it wants to say: According to the vice president of the Bayo, Lyn Agustin, their "What’s your mix?" campaign was supposed to be about embracing diversity. As such, the campaign’s posters featured text indicating the "racial heritage percentage" of the models.

The opposite effect: The manifesto accompanying the ad series confused and enraged a lot of people. It wasn’t because it was mean-spirited. It was mainly because it was so badly-written and convoluted. (For the full text of the manifesto, check out the Yahoo! Philippines SHE article, "Netizens baffled by clothing brand’s ad series.") Soon after the controversy broke out earlier this month, Bayo issued an apology and put a stop to the campaign.

The verdict: The ad campaign had a decent concept, but the manifesto did it in. It didn’t help that Bayo later revealed that "What’s your mix?" campaign actually had three phases.

Controversy rating: 4

 

 

3. DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM - "PILIPINAS KAY GANDA" AD CAMPAIGN

What it wants to say: Unveiled in 2010, the ad campaign was banking on the beauty of the Philippines to attract more tourists. The upbeat slogan was complemented by a funky logo that was supposed to convey playfulness.

The opposite effect: Netizens slammed the campaign and things got ugly really fast. For starters, they didn’t like the slogan. Then, they got really mad when it was revealed that the campaign logo was reminiscent of the logo used by Poland in their own tourism campaign.

The verdict: To be fair, the ad wasn’t that bad. Then again, it also wasn’t that original. An ABS-CBNNews.com report noted: "Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim admitted to rushing the ’Pilipinas Kay Ganda’ campaign, a move that led to widespread criticisms and the eventual scrapping of the new slogan by no less than President Benigno ’Noynoy’ Aquino III." Lim himself soon resigned from his post.

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Controversy rating: 5

 

 

2. COLT 45 - CRISTINE REYES VAVA-VROOM REAL MAN PROMO AD

What it wants to say: This ad series, with a scantily-clad Cristine Reyes as its star, aired in 2010. It’s part of the promo which highlights the chance of winning a weekend with the sexy actress and a "tough truck." This ad, in particular, shows a guy rubbing sunblock on Reyes. At the end of the ad, he is shown holding what appears to be Reyes’ bikini top. Aside from this ad, there was another one where Reyes took a shower as men lined up outside her apartment door. In that ad, she emerges from the shower wearing an unfastened cover-up and a bikini.

The opposite effect: Though the ad was all about beer and Reyes, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) slammed it for portraying females in a "derogatory manner."

The verdict: The ad was designed to make men go wild for the promo. The PCW was wild about it, too...but not in the way that made advertisers happy. In an ABS-CBNNews.com report, Colt 45 manufacturer Asia Brewery Inc. stated that "the company didn’t view the ads as a derogatory portrayal of women as a commodity or prize."

Controversy rating: 5

 

Screenshot of photo posted on Campaignlive.co.uk


1. NAPOLEON BRANDY - "NAKATIKIM KA NA BA NG KINSE AÑOS?" AD

What it wants to say: In 2004, Napoleon Brandy wanted to entice people into trying their 15-year-old blend. Thus, their billboard asked, "Nakatikim ka na ba ng kinsa años (Have you tasted a 15-year-old)?"

The opposite effect: When non-drinkers read the teasing question printed on the Napoleon Brandy billboard, drinking was the last thing that came to their mind. That’s despite the fact that a giant image of a bottle of brandy was right beside the printed words. A report from the newspaper, Today, revealed: "Lawyer Katrina Legarda, activist Maria Isabel Ongpin and three other child rights advocates filed charges against Destilleria Limtuaco Inc. and its ad agency, the Singson Lascano Group, for their allegedly ’offensive, depraved and vulgar’ Napoleon Brandy [ads]."

The verdict: The ad was designed to attract attention. However, the double entendre did it in.

Controversy rating: 5

 

Art by Warren Espejo.

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