Badvertising: Do Offensive Ads Really Work?

I don’t know about you, but what gets me hungry for burgers are demeaning, sexually explicit ads.

No, not really. But Burger King sure thinks so. This ad (pictured at left) is now running in Singapore, and it looks like BK has no plans to release it in the US, which is a good thing. It’s not sexy and it doesn’t make me hungry, so what’s the point? Shock value? It’s not even that shocking. Ads like this make regular appearances in print and digital media, which brings me to the 2008 Bacardi “Ugly Girlfriend Ads,” that ran for two months and recently resurfaced on Jezebel site.
   
Why would the girls featured in these ads do this to themselves? I can picture the ageing advertising men in suits that thought this one up. But what about them women who were somewhere, somehow involved in the creative process from brainstorm to print. Do they care so little about the image that they are projecting, that it doesn’t matter to them if these ads send negative messages about women?

Luckily, there are companies that are conscious of the message that they are sending to consumers. There is, of course, the Dove Ad Campaign For Real Women. Their Dove Evolution Video is still one of the coolest online videos I have seen, and their use of “real” women in their ads is commendable. Nike also has used “real women” in their advertisements by featuring different strong, athletic women that aren’t model types. I think we may still be a long way away seeing models with varicose veins and cellulite, but ads like these add some reality and diversity to the Photoshopped fantasies we are used to seeing.

So tell me, are these ads shocking to you? What’s the most offensive ad you’ve ever seen? What are the most empowering ad campaigns you've seen?

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