The art of creating a successful online video campaign is one many have tried, but few have mastered. Many disappear into the online ether, never to be clicked on again. But some are so badly misjudged, they attract attention for all the wrong reasons. With that in mind, we picked out three of the most inappropriate online video ads that kicked up a storm in the blogosphere.

  1. Pepsi

For a major example of a failed online ad, you need only look at the recent controversy around Pepsi and their latest video ad – that many accused of piggybacking on the Black Lives Matter protest movement. The ad featured reality TV star Kendall Jenner attending a saccharine representation of a protest rally. Protesters brandished signs no more political than ‘love’ and ‘peace’ and Kendall handed out cans of Pepsi to smiling police officers. Regardless of whether or not you find this offensive, the subject is clearly a very sensitive one and trying to advertise to young people through a depiction of a subject many people find deadly serious is quite a clear mistake.

  1. Paddy Power – Ladies Day

Companies have been burned time and time again in the past few years for using overtly sexual imagery, and the minefield of gender politics is one a lot of advertisers are wise in choosing to stay away from. Not Paddy Power though! In 2012 the British sports betting company tried to drum up interest in the upcoming Cheltenham horse racing festival with this spectacularly misjudged advert in which they encouraged viewers to identify transgender people from a montage of race attendees.

Despite running it by a transgender campaign group first, the ad was reported to OFCOM, the British TV regulatory body, hundreds of times and had to be pulled after just one week. Judge for yourself below!

  1. Hyundai – Pipe Job

Tastelessly making a joke out of a suicide attempt, this Hyundai advert was taken down just one day after being uploaded online in 2013. Hyundai quickly disowned the idea and stated that it was made without their consent by ad agency, Innocean. Subsequently, the ad was re-uploaded by pirate youtube channels and became somewhat of a viral sensation – for all the wrong reasons.

With an estimated 1% of all deaths worldwide occurring by suicide, a lot of people have probably seen or heard of a suicide at some point in their lives. While we understand the pressure to be creative and break the mould in online video advertising, bringing up this possibly traumatic subject for comedic effect in an advert was inconsiderate to say the least.

At Skylark Media Group we know how to avoid these pitfalls. We won’t produce any content that crosses the line into controversy if you choose us to help promote your business. We also do event filming and testimonial videos, amongst other services – so get in touch!

Image credit: Pepsi by JeepersMedia licensed under Creative commons 4

Jo Apr 18th, 2017

About Jo Haywood

Jo is the Managing Director at Skylark Media. Before starting Skylark in 2005, Jo ran the BBC Lifestyle website and prior to that directed science documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4. To switch off she can be found on the tennis court, at yoga, or planting trees in the forest garden.