Image by Andrew Tatlow
Advertising campaigns are incredibly expensive and are painstakingly designed to target a particular demographic. That is not to say some have not been amazingly strange and cryptic in their meaning. Here is my pick of five of the strangest ad campaigns in history.
Peter Wilkins worked for Mitsubishi Motors in New Zealand. With their new triton car hitting the sales floor he was faced with organising a new advert campaign. So what do you think he did? Personally maybe I would knock something off the price, extend the warranty or maybe throw in some complementary goodies. This is exactly what Wilkins did! He ran a TV advertising campaign offering anyone purchasing a new Triton a free goat as well. Genius. The campaign was much talked about in national news, so not as ridiculous as you might think.
One of the big hitters of the advertising industry. Even after all these years I still can’t get the jingle of ‘I’m loving it’ out of my head. McDonald’s recently released an ad campaign for new milkshakes in Finland.
The focus was an upside down shot of a cow’s milking teats flashing the lucky viewer the peace sign. Nothing like a pink pair of udders to get me banging down the door for a shake. Unsurprisingly the adverts have since been canned due to their ‘inappropriate content.’ A home run for McDonald’s millionaire advertising team.
Every so often an ad campaign comes along that makes you question humanity. Sprint is a global communications provider. In a series of adverts it shows a girlfriend breaking up with her boyfriend by text while sitting at the same table as him, joking that she gets free data.
This is swiftly followed by a doctor telling an athlete he is out of season over text. If someone did that to me I would question whether I had run their cat over in blackout or inflicted grievous harm to a close family member. The ad campaign is devoid of emotion or compassion for human sensibility, though all traces have mysteriously disappeared from the web. Welcome to the 21st century of technological innovation!
NHS Anti-Smoking Campaign
The war against smoking is still raging and the most recent anti smoking campaign rolled out by the NHS is particularly gruesome. Picture your average pasty face white male smoker. Check. Picture him lighting up a tasty candy stick. Check. As he puffs away a tumour begins to grow out of the cigarette. Cue montage of variety of smokers lighting sticks of tumours in various reposes of ignorant bliss. Lesson learnt.
In the 1950’s cigarette ads were extremely popular. Marlboro led the way with something that today would be deemed beyond bad taste. A series of adverts and a poster campaign with a baby as their poster child. The slogan that you can ‘never be over smoked… that’s the Miracle of Marlboro.’ Today any form of tobacco advertising is banned and for good reason but this was back in the day when many thought that cigarettes were good for your health!
For a more detailed look Dr Fox explored cigarette advertising in greater depth.
The world of advertising is a weird in wonderful place. Sometimes the strangest campaigns can yield great results and ultimately that’s what it is all about. If your ad gets people talking then you have in some way achieved what you set out to do.
If you have any more strange ad campaigns to share please comment below.
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Michael Muttiah is a professional writer. When not looking for spare change under the couch he can be found refreshing his emails. He recommends Dr Fox.