5 Times Sex Didn’t Sell: Read at Your Own Risk


Sex sells; we’ve seen it time and time again. Marketers and advertisers base entire brands and campaigns on it. But here are 5 times it didn’t work out.

Where is the line? How does an agency or advertiser know they’ve crossed it? Those are questions industry professionals battle every day. Keep reading to see what brands lost that struggle. Scroll through at your own risk.

This Israeli ad for Kiss Cigarettes brought controversy for three reasons: it bore a resemblance to human beings (which is illegal in tobacco advertising), didn’t adequately display the warning label, and was viewed as obscene. The Health Ministry of Israel filed a formal complaint and the agency was found guilty, facing fines.

Familiar brand Burger King has made a few mistakes in their heyday as well. The sexual innuendo below did not go over so well in Singapore, where the ad was published, especially ironic seeing as Singapore has a very conservative view of sex.

This Ford India ad was never meant to be posted, but made an online debut anyway. It shows Italy’s former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, in the vehicle with 3 women tied up and gagged in the trunk, accompanied by the slogan “leave your worries behind with the Figo’s extra-large boot.” (Berlusconi had a reputation of throwing wild parties and is facing charges for paying for sex with a minor.)

This next ad by Heinz isn’t their first controversial ad. However, while it raised some stink, it was neither fined nor banned. 

This British ad was banned after complaints that it “sexualized children.” The pose was considered provocative and the ad itself made Dakota Fanning look to be under the age of 16.

For work that’s safe for all eyes, Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service advertising agency located in Orlando, Florida. Appleton works with local, national and international clients to provide marketing strategies through print, web, social media and video productionall in-house. At Appleton, we want to learn about your business, empower your marketing team and be your creative resource. Your marketing goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or info@appletoncreative.com.

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