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.
Designed for a fashion line, showing models as fashion junkies.
Antonio Federici Ice Cream: Immaculately Conceived
Immaculately Conceived Ice Cream is our religion.
IndyAct: Snow Leopard
An ad for the campaign against fur coats.
Aware Helpline: Verbal Abuse
To raise awareness that sometimes verbal abuse is just as bad as a physical one.
WWF campaign to raise awareness that buying exotic animal souvenirs can cause damage to the wildlife.
CONAC Chilean Corporation Against Cancer Cancer: Brown
An ad depicting how second hand smoke can affect your loved ones.
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.
PIA! (Peace in Action): Chad T-shirt
Ad designed for PIA! (Peace in Action).
Pink Ribbon: Survived
An ad for breast cancer that leaves a strong impression on their viewers.
Coco De Mer Erotic Boutique: Doomsday Sex
Ad for an erotique boutique with a tag line that says “Like there’s no tomorrow”.
Dolce & Gabbana
One of the more controversial ads that were banned, seeing that the ad “praise of the violence toward the woman”.
Bäckerei Tröller: Really good bread
Bread so good that even Jesus does not want to share it.
Adam Le Adam, Community For The Elderly: Hangman’s Noose
Over 50% of all suicides are committed by senior citizens.
One Life: Shower
Each time you sleep with someone, you also sleep with his past. Get tested for HIV.
An anti-discrimination ad ran in Holland.
Casa Do Menor: hands
Set the kids free from abuse and violence.
Consuming the Earth is consuming our future.
Brita water filtration pitchers
Last year 16 million gallons of oil were consumed to make plastic water bottles.
Sanctuary, Save the tiger: Binocular
Killing tigers, kills tourism.
Shared Responsibility: Kidnapping
Cocaine doesn’t destroy people, it destroys a country.
Alka-Seltzer: New Year
Hangover is dangerous.
Multiple Sclerosis Australia: Use By Dates
When you have Multiple Sclerosis you never know what will expire next.
Colombian Association of Arterial Hypertension: Home
Without knowing you can be dying. High cholesterol injures your heart.
Association de défence contre le tabac: Girl
Smoking is being a slave to tobacco.
Pedestrian Council of Australia: Family
Kill a kid. Kill a family. Slow down in school zones.
Just liquid hand wash: Maggots
If you aren’t totally clean, you are filthy.
Help us fight the effects of cosmetic testing.
Ad designed for anti-binge drinking campaign.
Fondation Abbé Pierre: The lifeguard
During Summer, first aid isn’t needed only on the beaches.
Workplace Safety Insurance Board: Sign
An ad that promotes work place safety.
Silk Soft: 100% Recycled
A very disturbing and controversial ad that promotes the fact that Silk Soft is 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.
Roy Awards: Eyes
The art of making people give away their eyes for 30 seconds.
For one leather coat 120 young animals are slaughtered.
An ad designed just to spark controversy.
Amnesty International: Swimming
After the Olympic Games, the fight for human rights must go on.
JBS Men’s Underwear: Nurse
Men’s underwear ad with and underlying message that plays on humour and sarcasm.
McDonald’s way of saying that they are against racism.
A viagra ad that uses both humour and sexual theme to carry out their message.
IP Press Men’s Magazine: Kennedy Assasination
A controversial ad for a men’s magazine.