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Banned Adverts And Shock Advertising

Banned Adverts And Shock Advertising

February 9, 2024

Banned adverts get views

Warning: this blog contains videos that some readers may find offensive.

First up, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the Beats Pill advert was not to be shown before 19.30. It was simply “too sexual”.

The ASA took into account complaints that the advert was sexist and that people may find it distasteful “particularly the shots of the women’s bodies with their heads obscured and the shot of women on all fours”.

Whether intended or not (cough), this is brilliant marketing. A banned/controversial advert targets their demographic perfectly. The Beats electronic’s CEO is Dr Dre (if you type his name into Google the first result is “Beats by Dre”). A man who is not shy about shocking people. Average AB males don’t buy Beats products – Tweens and Generation Y’s do.

And when Generation Y’s deem a product ‘trendy’, Tweens will often follow in droves. Associating a brand with some form of controversy, in this case, increases its appeal.

Beats Pill


IKEA used the same approach of ‘shock advertising’ in their 2001 campaign with this series of adverts:

Many young adults, having grown up with IKEA, associated it with their parents generation. The “Tidy Up’ campaign, developed by Leagas Delaney, won a plethora of awards in 2001 and 2002 and helped change the way in which we now perceive IKEA.


I think we're all familiar with the term 'You know when you’ve been Tango’d'. Maybe I'm just showing my age... In any case, in 1992, an incredible campaign which was created purely designed to mock other adverts.

Trevor Robinson and Allan Young, the creators, are accredited with what has since become known as ‘Guerrilla advertising”.

“The whole point was that this radical, strong, full-of-attitude campaign worked – it shifted cans of fizzy pop in a way that got Britvic’s rivals panicking. It also showed what potential there was in thinking of completely fresh ideas. And better than that – it became part of our culture.” Tim Delaney, Leagas Delaney

The advert was banned because there were reports of the behaviour being replicated on the school playground and there were reports of damage to the ears. The orange man then switched to kissing his victims.

Skittles (yeah, you'll have to watch on YouTube...)

Taking shock advertising to the next level... right?

Ryan Clark from Linkbuildr sums up what many feel about the advert:
“This Skittles Newlweds commercial is quite possibly the most offensive ad in a long time…I LOVE it!”

The advert has no endorsement from Skittles: “This video and website is in no way associated with Skittles or the Wm. Wrigley Jr Company”

Shocking adverts can go viral, especially if they get banned – and it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s an animated explainer, animated GIF or some other sort of video production. If a brand didn’t create the ad, but can successfully disassociate itself from the content, whilst still getting the product out there, then the old adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”.

The advert gets shared and anyone who is offended gets told that the advert has no association with the brand. Win, win.

Featured Image: Angie Vianzon