Advertising is a tricky business. Every time you dare to think outside the box or take a creative risk, there’s a very real danger that you might end up doing something incredibly stupid. Alternatively, maybe you’re just so evil and determined to make money that things like the truth and social responsibility disappear out the window. Either way, commercials can end up doing some seriously strange things. Famous for pushing our buttons and making a whole bunch of us extra mad, these are the most controversial food adverts of all time.
1. Kendall Jenner Saves the World
Pepsi’s attempt to capitalise on growing racial tensions in America might well go down as one of the biggest PR gaffes in recent history. If the advert in question was to be believed, all that was needed to quell rising tensions between America’s police force and civil rights activists was a can of Pepsi. Needless to say, those on the frontline of the conflict weren’t having any of it.
2. McDonald’s Sexist French Fries
Advertising has a long unhappy history of misogyny, so we really shouldn’t be surprised when big businesses do something sexist. In 2014, McDonald’s came under fire for literally comparing woman to food in the UK, for this poster of their French Fries. Needless to say, the campaign was short lived.
3. 7-Up and Babies
It’s much more difficult to tell an outright lie in this day and age, but the 1950s were a different story. A golden era for dodgy advertisers, this particular example suggested that mothers should mix 7-Up with their baby milk as it was a “wholesome combination”. Looking back, “wholesome” is about the last word that springs to mind.
4. Pot Noodle Prostitutes
The theory that sex sells has long been a principle at the heart of the advertising industry, but this 2002 British commercial may have taken things too far. Not only does the ad in question feature a cruise through a red light district, but it comes complete with the questionable slogan, “The Slag of all Snacks”. Small wonder it got banned.
5. Burger King Better Than Sex
It’s not just the British who have a problem with sex and food. In 2009, this suggestive Singaporean ad caused an outcry for comparing Burger King’s new “Super Seven-Incher” sandwich to oral sex. What’s more, it later became clear that the model on the poster had no idea what her image was being used for.
6. Carl’s Border Burger
Infamous for their less than progressive depictions of women, Carl’s Junior took bad taste to an all new level when they combined bikinis and Donald Trump’s border wall in one fell swoop. Featuring a game of scantily clad volleyball, the commercial was lambasted for cultural appropriation, racism and sexism.
7. Trump’s Terrible Pizza
Trump might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you would expect him, as a native New Yorker, to know what he’s doing when it comes to pizza. Perhaps that’s what makes the sight of him eating pizza backwards in this Pizza Hut commercial all the more upsetting. Throw in a joke about divorce and the fact that this man now has nuclear codes, and you have the perfect recipe for a terrifying advert.
It’s easy to think that we’ve come a long way in our outlook and social values. To anyone who says that sexism, racism and any other ism are things of the past, I invite you to reexamine the list above. Obviously, we’re still more than capable of doing and saying stupid things.