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Top 5 Controversial Ads – How Wicked Can They Get?

Watching ads can be most fun and engaging if they send out the right message. However, some ads may not convey the meaning intended or may hold misleading claims. Under such circumstances they turn out to be notorious and not suitable enough for public screening. The “Get Unhooked” advertisement (2007), for example, brought in a lot of complaints while the aim of the ad was to get people to quit smoking.

As many as 14,080 ads were rated as controversial in the year 2007. Some of these ads made false claims about being green, and some of these seemed to depict violence. In fact, about 2,458 ads were either changed or withdrawn by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), according to an annual report.

Top 5 Controversial Ads
Listed below are some top 5 controversial ads that were ever made:

  • Fish Hook AdFish Hook Ad: The ad to get the maximum complaints (774) was the fish hook ad. This ad appeared almost everywhere from television, internet, press and posters as part of the NHS (National Health Service) anti-smoking campaign. The ad basically described the smoker’s craving for cigarettes by having their cheeks pulled through with a fish hook. Most people’s verdict to the ad was that it was terrifying, distressing and even frightening. ASA maintained that the ad could lead to serious offenses and agony in adults and kids alike. In fact, despite having the “ex-kids restriction” that banned controversial ads to be shown in between kids programs, two television and poster ads depicting the same were found to be both scary and upsetting for kids.
  • Trident Gum AdTrident Gum Ad: This ad comes next in being the most controversial, with 519 complaints against it. The ad showed people talking in Caribbean while chewing the Trident Gum. Viewers maintained that the ad was racist and was targeting the black or Caribbean culture. Though ASA did not look at the ad as a case of racial concern, it also realized that the ad managed to hurt the sentiments of a small section of the society.
  • Rustlers AdRustlers Ad: Next is the Rustlers’ ad, which had 219 complaints. The ad was basically about microwaveable burgers, one of which a couple seeks to enjoy as the lady agrees to have coffee at a man’s flat. While the woman sits on the sofa, the man presses on the microwave keypad only to find his gal twirling on the sofa, stopping only to reveal her underwear. This ad was ruled out as being offensive or controversial by the ASA. However, it got the “ex-kids restriction,” which disallowed such ads to be shown in between and around programs meant for children. Appearing during Bugsy Malone, a film for kids, added more fuel to the fire with the complaints about scheduling the ad being supported by ASA.
  • MFI AdMFI Ad: The furniture giant MFI came up with advertisements that showed couples quarrelling in stores. The added made it seem like it was normal for something like this at home. Though the ad had the ex-kids restriction, adults also felt that the ads were quiet shocking, unreal and disturbing to see. The ASA received as many as 217 complaints about the ad. One of the most disturbing scenes in showed a wife slapping her husband for leaving the toilet seat up, which was thought to promote domestic violence.
  • Quorn AdQuorn Ad: Marlow foods created an ad for its Quorn meat substitute ad that received 181 complaints. The ad shows a teenage girl pointing a fork at her brother during a family meal. The girl goes onto use words like “touch my food – feel my fork.” Viewers maintained that it was an irresponsible move on behalf of the ad-makers. These complaints said this was an act of aggression, which had the possibility of promoting bullying. The ASA felt that the ad clearly portrayed things in light fun and in a manner that was quiet normal in families. It did not see this particular ad as promoting bullying.

The American Academy of Pediatrics claims that on an average, kids spend 1,023 hours in front of their television sets. This is compared to the 900 hours spent at school in a year. It is also speculated that on an average, American kids are exposed to 200,000 acts of violence on screen.

Clearly, the world of television affects a child in a big way. However, some say that sometimes crazy ads serve the purpose. ”Shock tactics” can be an effective way to curbing alcohol abuse and excessive smoking. So, if you have to choose between the 774 complainants and the fish hook ad, which would you choose?

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7373667.stm

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