The purpose of advertisements is no doubt, to seek attention. But sometimes, creative agencies and marketing professionals go one step ahead, and cross the boundary between senseful and senseless creative, thereby attracting the ire of the audience, rather than attention.
Here are top 5 such controversial advertisements, which didn’t go down well with the viewers, and readers:
Flipkart’s Anti-Gorkha Advertisement
During the launch of Flipkart’s ‘Assured Flipkart’ campaign, they projected a Gorkha as a stereotyped watchman, a mistake which Bollywood movies have been doing since ages.
There was a severe backlash from not only Nepali viewers, but also from Indians, who were dead against such racism and stereotyping, just for laughs. In the end, Flipkart had to issue an apology.
Ola’s Gender Bias
In one of the advertisements by Ola, the guy is seen saying, “Meri girlfriend chalti hai Rs. 525 per km, but Ola Micro chalti hai sirf Rs. 6 per km,” (It costs me Rs. 525 per km when my girlfriend walks but Ola Micro runs at just Rs. 6 per km).
The point which Ola was trying to make is, that girl friends are usually money-spending creatures, always dependent on their boy-friends for shopping; whereas Ola Micro is cheaper.
There was entirely no sense to this logic, and women in general erupted in massive uproar against this ad. Ola were accused of not only objectifying women, but also creating a gender bias, sexism and misogyny with this advertisement.
The result: Ola to pull this advertisement down.
Paytm’s Insensitive Advertisement
Right after demonetization kicked in, Paytm launched advertisement, with the tagline: ‘Drama band karo, Paytm karo’. In the ad, a lady is seen complaining against demonetization and log queues outside banks. And suddenly, the maid asks her to stop the drama, and Paytm the salary to her.
Due to existing chaos, the public at large found this advertisement a tad insensitive and lacking sympathy towards those who were suffering from the side-effects of demonetization.
Paytm had to change the tagline of this ad.
Pan Bahar’s Stint With James Bond
Indians were shakena and stirred, when they say Pierce Brosnan, the most popular face of James Bond, in an advertisement for Pan Bahar, a brand which sells tobacco related products. In the ad, Pierce Brosnan is seen fighting and kicking his opponents, while having Pan Bahar, a product which causes cancer.
Indians were outraged and angry on Brosnan, and accused him of being irresponsible celebrity.
Later, Brosnan said that he was not associated with the brand, but the damage had been done.
Ranveer Singh’s Sexist Ad
Jack and Jones, a brand which sells men’s garments, created a massive controversy when their advertisement featuring Ranveer Singh showed him taking his office colleague in an objectionable manner, with even objectionable dialogue: ‘Dont Hold Back, Take Your Work Home’.
There was a severe backlash against the company, as well as against Ranveer for showcasing women as if they are a piece of meat. Allegations of sexism, objectifying women with sexual overtones and unprofessionalism emerged everywhere.
Ranveer had to issue an apology, and he later said that he had no idea about the punchline, when he agreed for the photo-shoot.