Anorak News | Bad Ads: Sexual violence and Advertising don’t mix

Bad Ads: Sexual violence and Advertising don’t mix

by | 11th, December 2012

BAD Ads – Sexual violence and Advertising don’t mix.

Sir Richard Branson described the recently withdrawn Virgin Mobile USA ad – which made a joke of rape – as “ill-judged” and “a dreadful mistake”.

“Although I don’t own the company, it carries our brand,” he said. “I will speak to the team there, make my thoughts clear and see what can be done about it.”

A shocking aberration, to be sure, but by no means unprecedented in the world of marketing. Indeed, some of the biggest brands in the world have been guilty of promotional campaigns that are every bit as offensive and misconceived. It’s a murky hinterland in which “edgy” and “funny” go badly wrong, and nobody is impressed with the results…

The Rolling Stones

The Stones’ 1976 album Black and Blue was accompanied by an adverting campaign (including a giant billboard on Sunset Boulevard) which showed the model Anita Russell, battered and trussed, under the slogan “I’m Black and Blue from the Rolling Stones — and I love it!” It was withdrawn after protests.

Super Soft

From the mid-seventies heyday of Benny Hill comes this naughty-but-not-at-all-nice Shampoo ad, extolling the delights of… er, being raped by Vikings…

Dolce & Gabbana

This ad was not, as you can imagine, aimed at the women’s market, but it’s nevertheless surprising that it managed to get past the advertising department of Esquire magazine…

Duncan Quinn

In 2008 the well-dressed abductor-about-town was wearing Duncan Quinn suits…


This disturbing Thelma & Louise homage was produced in Brazil for the Italian brand Relish. Unsurprisigly, the Special Secretary of Tourism of Rio de Janeiro asked for the images to be withdrawn.

Calvin Klein Jeans

Calvin’s 2010 ad was been removed from billboards in Australia after the Advertising Standards Bureau banned its display. “The Board considered that whilst the act depicted could be consensual, the overall impact and most likely impression is that the scene is suggestive of violence and rape,” said a spokesperson. “The Board considered that the image was demeaning to women by suggesting that she is a plaything of these men. It also demeans men by implying sexualised violence against women.”


A social network backlash did for this extraordinarily stupid faux pas. “It should never have happened,” said the company president. “I am currently investigating the matter to determine how this happened and to be sure it never does so again. The content is contrary to our values and we deeply regret this lapse.”


Cruelty to animals might not be very nice, but neither is cruelty to human beings. Something People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals might do well to remember next time they make a video…

And finally… Max Shoes

This bizarre bondage-footwear juxtaposition raises many questions. But we’ll limit ourselves to the obvious one, which could be asked of all the above: WHY?

Posted: 11th, December 2012 | In: Key Posts, The Consumer Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink