It seems that these days people are just itching to be offended, stand-up comedians like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld refuse to play college campuses anymore because of the hecklers yelling out hateful responses to everything they deem offensive or inappropriate. And now the selective outrage machine has rolled into the parking lot of Ideal Positions, it appears that a bleeped out curse word at the end of our most tame and benign radio ad has offended a couple of people (everyone else loved it) and it is the validation I’ve been waiting for as I truly believe that if you’re pissing the right people off, you’re on the right track. That doesn’t mean offending people by being a complete jerk, it just means eliciting an emotional response from the kinds of people who’s opinions you don’t really value and probably wouldn’t be working with anyway.
I consider myself to be a sensitive, woke and progressive person but even I am shocked at some of the things people choose to take personally. I find it endlessly funny that our Unsolved Mysteries ad is the one that caused a stir when there are plenty of other ads that are far more worthy of controversy. Burying a dead body, obesity, clearcutting forests, are just a few of the things poked fun at in some of our ads but a bleeped out word grabs all the attention. We didn’t use a racially insensitive word, we did not belittle or insult a protected class or offend any marginalized peoples, we did not attack anyone’s, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, country of origin, appearance, physical limitations, handicap or age, we bleeped out a common curse word……and it was funny
There have been more than a few pitch men fired over things they did personally but let’s take a look at some of the more controversial ads that have made the airwaves in recent years. Ads that were truly deserving of the backlash that followed.
Nationwide Insurance raised some eyebrows with their “dead boy” Superbowl ad which features a dead child talking about all the things he’ll never get to do because he died a preventable death that somehow could have been avoided if only his parents had Nationwide Insurance. The folks who made this ad should have sought a 2nd and a 3rd opinion before airing it, it’s nothing short of cringe-worthy. The ad itself is attached below, take a look for yourself.
Not long ago, Pepsi really pissed a lot of people off with a very controversial commercial that trivialized the Black Lives Matter movement and its star, Kendall Jenner became a lightning rod for the backlash that followed. It united millions across the country and the world wide web, the ad was quickly pulled from the airwaves. Pepsi really sh@t the bed on that one, hard to understand how that ad even made it to air, I’m thinking that somebody got fired for it, and rightfully so. If it was an ad agency that came up with that one, I wouldn’t be surprised if their contract was pulled. The ad is attached below
Dove Soap also got a big wtf? from decent people everywhere with a mind-boggling tv commercial showing African American women turning into white women after using their product, it was so beyond stupid and offensive that it will likely be talked about for years to come. Apparently, it is the 2nd time Dove has used this horrible idea for an ad and it was well deserving of the boycott that followed.
The geniuses at Nivea also screwed the pooch with their “white is purity” slogan. No more really needs to be said about that.
And lastly, Mcdonald’s really made a McPoopy with a grief-focused ad featuring a son asking his mother about his dead father, only to be told that the one thing the boy and his dad had in common was a love of Fillet-o-Fish sandwiches. This ad wasn’t nearly as bad as the aforementioned but still offended plenty of people, personally, I think it was just stupid.
I will be covering more head-scratching ads in my next blog but make sure to say tuned for posts from Ian Davis and Maile Collier.