Have you ever seen before and after photos in an ad that made you doubt their authenticity? A wrinkle cream demonstrated on a model airbrushed from reality?
How about ads targeting the insecurities of young girls?
These crimes against consumers are out there, and we don’t need more of them. Mistakes are one of the best ways we learn as humans, but the good news is- we don’t have to make them ourselves.
Below are examples of unethical ads that should never have made it past the editor’s desk.
Treating people with basic respect is a low-bar expectation. Shaming your audience doesn't make sales, it makes you look bad.
I truly doubt that any of these marketing teams set out to make their ads explicitly racist. At least, I hope not. But surely someone could have stopped these train wrecks before they left the station.
Yeah, sex sells. But there is a subtle and tasteful way to create appeal to the opposite sex. The following ads, however, embraced objectification, shame, and the outright death of women.
Misleading Marketing or Blatant Lies
If you're going to make a claim about your product, you better have the evidence to back it up. This is the age of information. People can find out pretty quickly if you're selling truth or lies.
And one more for the road: Maybe don't use suicide in your commercial.
According to the WHO, over 700 000 people die due to suicide every year. And suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. It's no joke, and it has no place in the promotion of your product.
This list of bad examples is anything but exhaustive. I'd encourage anyone, new or veteran, in the marketing game to spend time studying the ad crimes companies have made.
Some things will always be taboo, others change with the times. And, while P.T. Barnum might believe that “There's no such thing as bad publicity", others have learned the hard way that there is.