Offensive Advertising

When we think of offensive advertising, we think of an ad with a racy photo or campaign with a questionable slogan. Typically, we don’t associate an advertising failure to a poor font selection. Well, Pepsi has made this error. Earlier this week, Pepsi released this poster.



At first sight it appears as if this poster reads RAPE  instead of AAPE which has caused a lot of controversy. Japanese clothing company A Bathing Ape probably isn’t too happy with the way Pepsi choose to promote their new AAPE line.


Print Advertising is a difficult. Companies are continuously trying to come up with cleaver and creative advertisements that will attract their consumers by creating a buzz. While many companies succeeded in creating new and advertisements, there are still many who fail. The companies that fail, do so because they develop advertisements that many individuals interpret as offensive because they cross the line of what is considered appropriate. Most commonly, ads are found offensive due to their sexual innuendos, but other offensive ads are bad in taste because they include jokes about drugs, religion, culture, or …



It has become an increasingly common trend for any and every type of company to imply some sort of sexual innuendo with their product, even when their product has NOTHING to do with sex. Not only is this highly confusing, it has gotten some companies in a lot of trouble by generating negative discussion that later become associated with their brand’s image. Many advertising images are borderline pornographic and this is becoming more and more mainstream.

First there is Nikon’s Coolpix S60 camera. This is one of several advertisements put out to demonstrate how great their facial recognition software is. Showing two very young looking girls half-naked in bed. At the bottom of the advertisement, it says “Detects up to 13 faces” I wonder what that could be implying.


Next, there is JBS underwear. While you would expect an underwear ad to include something relatively racy or provocative, JBS has continued to push the limits and shock individuals. In 2008 their campaign slogan was “Men do not want to look at naked men.” So instead,  they decided to utilize provocative, maximum like photos of women pictured wearing or holding men’s underwear.

jbs-underwear-nun-large-36898 jbs-underwear-nurse-original-17214 images


Enough about sex, companies have also put out questionable advertisements that have offended certain religious groups. Here are some examples.

In 2006, Nike launched a highly criticized ad campaign. One of their print ads depicted England’s best football player, Wayne Rooney, with the Cross of St. George painted on his chest.


Almost instantaneously, several religious groups complained about this advertisement. Although Nike claimed that their ad had nothing to do with the crucifixion, these religious groups found it offensive because they believed it trivialized Christian’s sufferings.

Antonio Federaci, an ice cream manufacture, launched a campaign with their slogan being “Ice cream is our religion.” Many of these advertisements have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for recieving too many complaints. Here are some of their print ads.

ice-cream-2 ice-cream-1


When trying to come up with a new advertisement or ad campaign, you should always think of how your audience will perceive the ad. If you have any doubts about whether it could been seen ass offensive, it is probably best if you don’t use it.