Examining the Pros and Cons of Controversial Advertising

Modern life is certainly full of controversies, and you may have seen a few of them highlighted in recent commercials. When done properly, controversial advertising can spark a meaningful conversation. But when it’s not done well, this approach can inadvertently push customers away instead. Should your business give it a try?

Con: Sometimes, there can be a negative backlash.

Controversial advertising tends to generate a negative backlash when it appears as if the commercial was intended solely to promote a product. This is most often seen when there is a negligible connection (or no connection at all) between the product and the social issue. One prime example is the notorious Pepsi commercial, in which Kendall Jenner joined a parade and handed a police officer a can of Pepsi, triggering a round of applause and cheers from the crowd. Since there is no connection between soda and this particular social issue, and because a celebrity was used in the ad simply for the sake of piggybacking on her fame, viewers widely denounced this video.

Pro: Controversial advertising can create intensely loyal customers.

It’s true that a controversial commercial can shock and offend some viewers. But it’s also true that the message will resonate deeply with other viewers, encouraging them to become intensely loyal, lifelong customers. Consider the example of the Anheuser-Busch “Born the Hard Way” commercial. It tackles the controversial subject of immigration by exploring the origin story of their beer. This ad depicts one of the founders facing considerable dangers and hardships as he traveled to America, where he met the other founder. This ad resonated strongly with many viewers who were already inclined to see the positive contributions that immigrants bring to America. Unlike Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad, this commercial works because the company does indeed have a personal connection to the immigration issue and because it appears genuinely intended to spark meaningful conversations.

Your vision for your marketing videos is unique. Here at Film Creations, Ltd., we’ll work closely with you to create a video that will encompass your company’s values, vision, and core mission. Call our office in Tucson at (520) 624-4444 to inquire about our video production services.