Ten Adverts that Shocked the World

We all know that a great ad campaign relies on grabbing the attention of its audience, and sometimes a little bit of controversy can give it that impetus it needs. But sometimes that agencies cross the line and actually produce something highly offensive. This series of ads explores where exactly this line is. Some of them are shocking, others less so, but all are controversial.


A poster from an anti-smoking campaign by Les Droits des Non-fumeurs


Campaign by ad agency Serve, commissioned by the Family Violence Partnership in Milwaukee, to raise awareness about statutory rape.


Advert designed to promote a new magazine for jetsetters ‘Deutsch Magazine’

Dubbed ‘Vaginads’ by the media, the campaign for Tom Ford’s menswear featured a series of close-ups of naked women with a cologne bottle covering their most intimate parts.


Tagline ‘Well, at least he drives a Prius’.


A South American beauty clinic called Xiomara Coronado Beauty Center launched this campaign featuring digitally enhanced images of Angelina Jolie and Paris Hilton, alleging that they’d look that wrinkly in years to come if they neglected their skincare routine.


M&C Saatchi is responsible for this campaign for the Australian Red Cross aimed at promoting blood donation.


This Benetton advert features a photo of Aids sufferer and activist David Kirby and his family by Therese Frare (1990). The original picture, which won the World Press Photo Award, was published in black and white, but Benetton’s advertisers decided they wanted to use a colour version to make it seem more shockingly like a real ad. The ad was designed to raise awareness of Aids and Kirby’s family and Frare approved of the photos use. But it provoked a storm of criticism from other Aids activists who claimed the campaign was in some way a vindication of homosexuality.


From Agent Provocateur. Slogan ‘Fair trial, my arse’


Fashion designer Kenneth Cole’s ‘We all have Aids’ ad campaign



Article originally appeared in The Independent