If the level of pettiness of complaints to the world's advertising standards authorities is anything to go by, the world's consumers are certainly getting a lot more sensitive about what they see in advertising.
And as a result, more and more ads that world have quite easily have passed muster 20 years ago are now being hauled off TV and cinema screens and out of newspapers and magazines.
A quick check on the Internet produced a list of 15 of the world's most "offensive, banned and rejected" advertisements. Admittedly, some of them are decidedly tacky and make no marketing sense whatsoever, clearly just designed to be shocking for shock's sake.
Judge for yourself
But, the majority would probably not have raised a single eyebrow 20 years ago. Have a look at the ads below and judge for yourself.
The big question, of course, is this:
Are advertising standards watchdogs simply getting stricter and a lot more conservative or are consumers really a lot more sensitive these days?
And if the latter is the case, is it just a question of a tiny minority of over-eager Mother Grundies trying to dictate to dictate levels of morality on behalf of the majority or do those few, who complain so bitterly and sometimes from a position of such pettiness, actually represent the opinion of the majority?
Bacardi - Canada - Banned as it "objectified and demeaned women" (ASC)
Apart from being a corporate marketing analyst, advisor and media commentator, Chris Moerdyk is a former chairman of Bizcommunity. He was head of strategic planning and public affairs for BMW South Africa and spent 16 years in the creative and client service departments of ad agencies, ending up as resident director of Lindsay Smithers-FCB in KwaZulu-Natal. Email Chris on and follow him on Twitter at @chrismoerdyk.
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I really agree with all the banned contents because advertisers are becoming conveniently oblivious of the moral decadence that comes with some of their messages. We must be wary of the fact that consumers are emerging from various cultural backgrounds and that must be considered when messages for public consumption are being churned out in the press,tv or online. In Zimbabwe there is a cigarette brand that has produced advertising material that borders on the obscene but because there are rather relaxed enforcement of advertising standards there is nobody challenging the implications of those messages. It is good to keep watch of standards so that we do not justify obscene messages for liberal thought.
They're sexist, misogynist and thoughtless. And no, Chris, they people who are complaining are most certainly not petty nor are they too sensitive.
Yes, you're probably correct that had those ads been aired 20 years ago, no-one would've complained. Or very few would've complained. But surely it's a sign that we are becoming more progressive than what we had been 20 years ag0?
Some of these are fantastic, but I find the vast majority either too explicit or sexist and really don't want to see them on billboards or in magazines. And no, I've never been considered a petty mother grundy.
I think the problem is that the ratio of "offensive" to "normal" ads has changed from what is was 20 years ago. For example, 1 sexist/mysognistic ad in, say, 30 regular ads in a mag if effective and rather funny. When it rises to 15 out of 30 the effect is quite different - they don't seem as much of a laugh as they used to be...
I don't agree that most of the ads wouldn't have raised an eyebrow 20 years ago. The sexually explicit/suggestive ones would not have got further than the creative director's desk. In fact, the only ones whose banning I consider petty are Blair with a Hitler moustache, the guy hooked like a fish, and "Killer Heels", which is artistically stunning. All three are British ads, which says something for Britain as a nation of mother grundies (and also for the creativeness of its agencies).