New research conducted by journey advertising platform illumin has shed light on the most controversial TV ads in the United States, pinpointing major brands like Pepsi and Dove in the mix. This study presents a compelling view of advertising’s impact and the thin line between innovative and offensive content.
Analyzing Complaints: A State-by-State Breakdown
illumin’s research delved into Federal Communications Commission (FCC) complaints data, examining both ‘loud’ and ‘indecent’ commercials. By scaling these complaints against state populations, illumin identified the most disgruntled states, with Arizona notably ranking tenth in the number of complaints.
Insights from Mark Cluett, Digital Marketing Expert
Mark Cluett, Director of Digital Marketing at illumin, emphasizes the delicate balance in advertising: “Successful advertising is more than just a roll of the dice; it’s about meticulous planning and thorough research to ensure you’re appealing to your target audience along their journey, rather than offending or annoying them. The most controversial ads remind us that treading the line between captivating and alienating is an art that demands strategy, tact, and the utmost care. However, even some of the biggest brands make mistakes – as we can see by naming the top five most controversial ads that serve as a great guide of what not to do.”
The Top Five Most Controversial US Adverts
- Pepsi – Global Message of Unity: This ad, featuring Kendall Jenner in a protest setting, was criticized for trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement, leading to Pepsi pulling the ad.
- Peloton – The Gift That Gives Back: Criticized for its sexist undertones, this ad depicting a woman’s fitness journey post receiving a Peloton bike as a gift saw the company’s stock value plummet.
- Gilette – We Believe: This campaign, attempting to align with the #MeToo movement, faced backlash for its perceived tone-deaf approach.
- Snickers – Do Something Manly: Criticized for homophobic undertones, this ad showed two men eating a Snickers bar and accidentally kissing.
- Huggies – Dad Test: This ad received flak for perpetuating stereotypes about fathers’ incompetency in childcare, leading to a petition for its removal.
The States Taking a Stand
According to illumin’s findings, Vermont leads with the highest number of complaints about TV commercials, scoring 8 out of 10. Following closely are Pennsylvania, Washington, Maine, and New Hampshire. This data reflects a growing trend of viewers’ intolerance towards loud or insensitive ads.
Methodology Behind the Rankings
The controversial ads were selected based on their prominence in Google searches related to US controversial adverts. The state ranking involved analyzing regional data on complaints about loud and indecent commercials, with each state scored based on the combined number of complaints.
Sources: Open Government Data from The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on CGB Consumer Complaints.