Learning A Lesson: Five Ads That Died For Their Sins

Perhaps you've heard the news that Nike has pulled its "That Ain't Right" balls-in-face ads after an outpouring of outrage sparked largely by this very website (though we weren't the first to address it). Are you proud of yourselves, commentariat? You are feared in all corners of corporate America. But the larger point here is that advertising is getting to be a very touchy business; companies are making fools of themselves nearly every week because of the crackheaded work of one of their ad agencies. After the jump, we look at five ads that had to be yanked recently, where they went wrong, and who came out ahead. Read and learn:


Nike's balls-in-face Hyperdunk poster

What happened: Nike's ad depicting a b-ball player getting posterized sports an unfortunate tagline to go with the unfortunate image, and plays on a baseline of macho homophobia. The ad is pulled just days after the company feels the awesome power of mildly piqued blog readers.

The lesson: Sports must be slightly more gay-conscious.

Winners:
Gays, basketball fans (in the long run), Adidas, which makes cooler shoes.

Losers: Nikes, macho guys, those who will be deprived of this perspective on Hyperdunk technology.

Snickers and Mr. T

What happened: Snickers ad shows Mr. T in a pickup truck, shooting at a swishy speed walker with a gatling gun. Tagline: "Get some nuts!" Gays cry foul, company folds.

The lesson:
Anti-gay image or tagline alone leaves deniability; both together is too much.

Winners:
Gays, speed walkers.

Losers: Snickers, alpha males, remnants of Mr. T's career.

JC Penney's Teen Sex commercial

What happened: An ad agency wins an award for a shocking (in context) commercial for JC Penney that sympathetically shows two teenagers sneaking around having sex under mom's nose. The company sputters that the ad isn't authorized; the ad agency apologizes; lots of people get their ass handed to them (we imagine); an opportunity for mainstream progressivism is lost.

The lesson: Your ad agency will sell you out, big time.

Winners: The type of people who buy mom jeans.

Losers: Teens, society, ad agency rebels.

Heinz's Gay Mayo ad

What happened:
Heinz ran an ad in the UK showing a man kissing a deli guy because his mayonnaise is so good. Bill O'Reilly declared the ad "obviously a gay thing," and the company decided to pull it.

The lesson: The world is still not ready to see men kiss.

Winners:
Shouting heads.

Losers: Gays, deli guys, gay deli guys.

Salesgenie.com's Asian Panda Bears

What happened: Company runs Super Bowl ad featuring cartoon panda bears who speak in an exaggerated Asian accent. Outcry of anti-Asian racism ensues. Company hastily pulls the ads.

The lesson:
If you're gonna fuck up, don't do it during the Super Bowl (ALSO GOES FOR FOOTBALL PLAYERS).

Winners: Asians, the New York Giants.

Losers: The idiot CEO who wrote the ad himself, his friend Bill Clinton, the New England Patriots.