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Advertising is created for the purpose to attract attention from the public as well as to create and gain awareness from the target viewers. However, some of the designers and advertisers took one step further to make sure that their message stays with the viewers. In order to do that, the advertisers or designers decided to shock and surprise the viewers, using shock advertising or in this case controversial and extreme advertising to create a shocking and lasting impression on the public.

Extreme advertising is something that is done intentionally for a purpose. This form of advertising plays with psychological aspects of the human mind. It evokes emotions such as anger and fear in the viewers, the message and the graphic image the advertisement provides is so shocking that it is deeply etched into the viewer’s mind, making them remember and be reminded of the message each time they see something that relates them to the message.

Controversial advertising on the other hand, raises issues when people notice the advertisement. The other reason controversial advertising is just as effective as extreme advertising is due to we, the public in general loves controversial issues. While, we try to shy away from such issue we cannot help but be attracted to it at the same time. Therefore, we usually see the tactics of controversial and extreme advertising applied on campaigns to raise awareness. Some of the campaigns include anti-smoking campaigns, STD awareness campaigns, racism and also political issues.

Extreme advertising as well as controversial advertising sends out their messages in a way that defied social norms and moral codes, it provides graphic imagery that is disturbing and suggestive in different cases. However, these methods of advertising proved to be effective when they made one stop in their tracks and make one think twice. The lasting and strong impression these advertisements leave in ones mind allows its message to stay with the viewer successfully passing on the message.

Most of the time some of the controversial advertising provides underlying sexual themes playing on the fact that sex sells and draw interest in the products that they are marketing. Extreme advertising on the other hand poses disturbing imagery to make their point, invoking deeper emotions upon the viewers to raise awareness. The other theme adopted by controversial and extreme advertising is humor to catch the public’s attention.

Here we have compiled a list of controversial and extreme advertisements from different sources and while some manage to stay appropriate for their cause, there are also those that are so disturbing and controversial that they have been banned in some countries. Either way, we hope that our readers will learn to appreciate this form of advertising seeing that they have proved to be useful in different occasions.

SISLEY

Designed for a fashion line, showing models as fashion junkies.
SISLEY

Antonio Federici Ice Cream: Immaculately Conceived

Immaculately Conceived Ice Cream is our religion.
Antonio Federici Ice Cream: Immaculately Conceived

IndyAct: Snow Leopard

An ad for the campaign against fur coats.
IndyAct: Snow Leopard

Aware Helpline: Verbal Abuse

To raise awareness that sometimes verbal abuse is just as bad as a physical one.
Aware Helpline: Verbal Abuse

WWF: Blood

WWF campaign to raise awareness that buying exotic animal souvenirs can cause damage to the wildlife.
WWF: Blood

CONAC Chilean Corporation Against Cancer Cancer: Brown

An ad depicting how second hand smoke can affect your loved ones.
CONAC Chilean Corporation Against Cancer Cancer: Brown

Deutscher Tierschutz Bund e.V.: Animal Rights, Pig

Put yourself in a pig’s place. Stop anaesthetic-free piglet castration with us! Animals suffer like we do.
Deutscher Tierschutz Bund e.V.: Animal Rights, Pig

PIA! (Peace in Action): Chad T-shirt

Ad designed for PIA! (Peace in Action).
PIA! (Peace in Action): Chad T-shirt

Pink Ribbon: Survived

An ad for breast cancer that leaves a strong impression on their viewers.
Pink Ribbon: Survived

Coco De Mer Erotic Boutique: Doomsday Sex

Ad for an erotique boutique with a tag line that says “Like there’s no tomorrow”.
Coco De Mer Erotic Boutique: Doomsday Sex

Dolce & Gabbana

One of the more controversial ads that were banned, seeing that the ad “praise of the violence toward the woman”.
Dolce & Gabbana

Bäckerei Tröller: Really good bread

Bread so good that even Jesus does not want to share it.
Bäckerei Tröller: Really good bread

Adam Le Adam, Community For The Elderly: Hangman’s Noose

Over 50% of all suicides are committed by senior citizens.
Adam Le Adam, Community For The Elderly: Hangman's Noose

One Life: Shower

Each time you sleep with someone, you also sleep with his past. Get tested for HIV.
One Life: Shower

discriminate.nl:Hide

An anti-discrimination ad ran in Holland.
discriminate.nl:Hide

Casa Do Menor: hands

Set the kids free from abuse and violence.
Casa Do Menor: hands

WWF: Baby

Consuming the Earth is consuming our future.
WWF: Baby

Brita water filtration pitchers

Last year 16 million gallons of oil were consumed to make plastic water bottles.
Brita water filtration pitchers

Sanctuary, Save the tiger: Binocular

Killing tigers, kills tourism.
Sanctuary, Save the tiger: Binocular

Shared Responsibility: Kidnapping

Cocaine doesn’t destroy people, it destroys a country.
Shared Responsibility: Kidnapping

Alka-Seltzer: New Year

Hangover is dangerous.
Alka-Seltzer: New Year

Multiple Sclerosis Australia: Use By Dates

When you have Multiple Sclerosis you never know what will expire next.
Multiple Sclerosis Australia: Use By Dates

Colombian Association of Arterial Hypertension: Home

Without knowing you can be dying. High cholesterol injures your heart.
Colombian Association of Arterial Hypertension: Home

Association de défence contre le tabac: Girl

Smoking is being a slave to tobacco.
Association de défence contre le tabac: Girl

Pedestrian Council of Australia: Family

Kill a kid. Kill a family. Slow down in school zones.
Pedestrian Council of Australia: Family

Just liquid hand wash: Maggots

If you aren’t totally clean, you are filthy.
Just liquid hand wash: Maggots

E.N.P.A.: Spray

Help us fight the effects of cosmetic testing.
E.N.P.A.: Spray

whatareyoudoingtoyourself.com: Street

Ad designed for anti-binge drinking campaign.
whatareyoudoingtoyourself.com: Street

Fondation Abbé Pierre: The lifeguard

During Summer, first aid isn’t needed only on the beaches.
Fondation Abbé Pierre: The lifeguard

Workplace Safety Insurance Board: Sign

An ad that promotes work place safety.
Workplace Safety Insurance Board: Sign

Silk Soft: 100% Recycled

A very disturbing and controversial ad that promotes the fact that Silk Soft is 100% recycled.
Silk Soft: 100% Recycled

Children and Adolescents Reference Center: Peter

Turn off the lights and help Peter overcome his fear of the dark.Pedophilia. You might not see it, but it could be happening. 70% of child abuse cases take place in their own home.
Children and Adolescents Reference Center: Peter

Roy Awards: Eyes

The art of making people give away their eyes for 30 seconds.
Roy Awards: Eyes

FAADA: Woman

For one leather coat 120 young animals are slaughtered.
FAADA: Woman

Deutsch: Crotch

An ad designed just to spark controversy.
Deutsch: Crotch

Amnesty International: Swimming

After the Olympic Games, the fight for human rights must go on.
Amnesty International: Swimming

JBS Men’s Underwear: Nurse

Men’s underwear ad with and underlying message that plays on humour and sarcasm.
JBS Men's Underwear: Nurse

McDonald’s: Individuals

McDonald’s way of saying that they are against racism.
McDonald's: Individuals

Viagra: Holes

A viagra ad that uses both humour and sexual theme to carry out their message.
Viagra: Holes

IP Press Men’s Magazine: Kennedy Assasination

A controversial ad for a men’s magazine.
IP Press Men's Magazine: Kennedy Assasination