back to top

When Big Companies Get Called Out For Their Offensive Ads

10 incendiary ads that forced public apologies out of major brands.

Posted on

2. Ford

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and three of his Bunga Bunga girls, bound and gagged.

The campaign (the 2nd ad featured bound and gagged Kardashian sister caricatures) was never "publicized," but, the ad agency (JWT, New Delhi) put them on the internet. Ford not only knew about them, but approved them to be entered into India's biggest awards show competition.

First the ad agency and then Ford apologized, saying, "We are reviewing approval and oversight processes to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again."



The ad was only produced in South Korea (by Oreo's official ad agency there, Cheil. But again: the internet doesn't have borders. The edgy execution caused a ruckus, forcing Kraft USA to officially say they had nothing to do with the ad.

5. World Wildlife Federation

This ad, headlined "The tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11" was produced in Brazil.

The WWF first stated that they didn't approve it, but after a little digging, it was discovered that the organization's Brazilian office did greenlight it, forcing the U.S. office to issue the usual mea culpa.

Here's the video verison of the ad.

6. Mentos


Here's another Brazilian ad, this one for the Mentos single pack, tagged "Selfishness without guilt." The fat women-mocking ad was entered into major industry awards shows without Mentos' knowledge, forcing the candy's parent company, Perfetti Van Melle, to damn the ad's existence.

7. Bacardi


Another overweight (and ugly) woman mocking campaign, this one via Israel. It was an online promotion — approved by Bacardi — that was quickly pulled, but not before women worldwide bombarded the brand via email over the incredibly insensitive idea.

8. KIA


A KIA ad — again via Brazil — advertising the car's dual zone a/c.

The pedophiliac ad won a Silver Lion at the Cannes Ad Festival in 2011, which caused the ad to get worldwide recognition, which caused Kia Motors America to break out the spokesperson and issue an apology.

10. Belvedere


The French vodka brand posted the ad on Facebook and Twitter, the cries of "rape" flooded into their headquarters, and they subsequently pulled the ad and apologized, via Facebook and Twitter.

The entire process took less than one (1) hour.