5 Ad Campaigns That Backfired - #5 With True Message

  • May 23, 2015
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4.

Victoria's Secret - "The Perfect 'Body'"

The world of fashion is well known for making advertising blunders. In 2011 Italian Vogue described circular and hoop earnings as “slave earrings.” Here's Levi's Jeans advertising that “hotness comes in all shapes and sizes” by utilizing three models of one shape and size. In 2014 Victoria's Secret began promoting a line of bras in the UK via online and in-store advertisements. Almost immediately the ads were attacked for the same reasons as the the Levi's ad linked above. Social media discussions were critical of the slogan, and a change.org petition reached over 30,000 signatures asking Victoria's Secret to apologize and pull the ads. At least one other company made a parody ad utilizing models of varying shapes and sizes. This was sort of a victory for the opposition in that the online ads were changed to read “A Body For Every Body.” However, the image itself remains unchanged, which would suggest that maybe Victoria's Secret missed the point entirely. Many of the controversies surrounding the company revolve around their choice in models. At some point you would expect they'd pick up on that.

5.

Reebok - "Cheat on Your Girlfriend, Not on Your Workout"

In the digital age your ad doesn't have to be global to spark outrage around the world. The above ad was only posted in gyms that Reebok had partnered with in Germany, and presumably that's as far as the company thought they would reach. All it took was some photos, some tweets, and soon the world knew that a company was suggesting that your brand of shoe was more important than being faithful. “It's obviously a joke,” you say, and sure, that's true. But it's arguably in poor taste and as each previous entry in this article proves, the digital age allows us to more directly (and more easily) express our anger and disgust. The story made news in and outside of Germany. At one point the website cheaterville.com, a site dedicated to exposing cheaters, weighed-in with their opinion and threatened a boycott. Reebok was fast to apologize, pulling down the ads and saying the company was “disappointed that they appeared at all.” The ads were up for a grand total of two weeks.

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