How Ridiculously Controversial Can Television Advertisements Get?

Controversial Television Advertising

There have been hundreds and thousands of controversies and debates over the content of television advertisements overs the years. Often, it is these controversies that make a particular advertisement popular, and a subject of curiosity. Here’s a bit about controversies in television advertising.

Television, the idiot box, entered common household by the 1950s and needless to say, it exposed us to information like never before. Even today, as good as entire nations are watching and listening closely to each and every word uttered (on TV) for a set amount of time. Though most of us are not very interested in watching commercials that are aired on television, certain ads have remained popular for a long time due to various reasons, one of them being their controversial content.

Causes of Controversy

Television advertising is generally a thirty-second audio-visual clipping telling us the features and advantages of a particular product. Since the time span of an advertisement is so limited, its content needs be exciting, catchy and short, but at the same time must get the point across immediately. However, in this process advertisers sometimes tend to include debatable content – what may be passé in one country may be blasphemy in another. This is one of the main reasons why even multinationals seldom keep the same advertising content across countries, leave alone continents.

In the field of television advertising, controversies can be caused due to various factors. Some of them are as under:


With the advent of 24×7 news channels in the recent past, the media is full of political news feeds from all over the world. Most people across the globe love to watch these channels after a tiresome day and hence possess knowledge of the happenings in the political sphere of the world. Advertisers often attempt to take advantage of this and base the content of their advertisements on important global political events so that viewers get attracted towards the ad and eventually towards the product. However, using such content in advertisements can lead to great controversy.


Religion, the set of values directing people’s lives, is the weak point of most people across continents. Anything that viewers think is offending their religious sentiments becomes a subject of controversy that stirs up the entire community and eventually the nation as a whole. Moreover, if an international ad contains any such religiously offensive matter, it may snowball to a very big controversy.

Gender and Race
Gender and race are two other factors making numerous advertisements controversial, alongside religion. Ads portraying women as the weaker sex, or depicting men and women in a clichéd manner, often tend to create controversies. On the other hand, advertisements having racist comments/content are bound to create an uproar in the media, as it is racism is a criminal offense in many countries.

Sex has always been a matter of controversy, even in print media. The television, a form of audio-visual media, goes one step even further. Adverts having sexually explicit content may succeed in seeking viewers attention but may have an adverse impact on underage children who might be watching TV at that time. Moreover, open discussions about sex are more often than not considered taboo in many cultures around the world.

Sexual Inclination
Some advertisements, in order to grab attention and capture market use content depicting same-sex relationships. While in some countries, such as France and Australia, sexual affiliations have a legal standing, they are considered immoral or a taboo in many other cultures.

Unethical Products
Advertisements of morally objectionable products such as tobacco, cigarettes and alcohol has always stirred up controversy. The basic controversy is against the promotion of these objects because they are known to cause harm to their regular users in the long-run. Moreover, many times, these advertisements have immoral content which add to the controversy.


Sometimes, advertisements portray serious history in a very comical and farcical way. People and nations tend to be sensitive about their history and respect it. Depiction of important historic events and happenings in a humorous manner may not be taken positively and this creates controversies.

Famous People

There are many advertisements that feature or dramatically represent famous personalities and public icons or important figures in order to grab the attention of the viewers or focus on their products. A large number of such advertisements land up in trouble creating huge controversy as people sometimes take an offense about content against their icons whom they admire.

Physical Traits

Many advertisements directly target physical traits of people in order to convince consumers how their products are useful. Such advertisements generate controversy for hurting the sentiments of people relating to their physical appearance.


There are a lot of commercials that contain disheartening matter on issues relating to child abuse, domestic violence, animal exploitation and other forms of abuse as well. Though many of these ads are public awareness campaigns relating to such issues, the scenes they depict can often be very disturbing.

Although controversial advertising is said to disturb people at the most, there are other ads that have raised the heckle of consumers. False advertising stands high on this list. It happens when a company makes false statements, in a deliberate manner, in order to generate consumer interest and therefore, gain revenue.

Famous Controversial Advertisements

As seen above, controversy in television advertising can be caused by anything from religion to general opinion. Some commercials generate controversy just by being there, for instance the Crazy Frog advertisement which was broadcast on Belgian Television. Some parents complained that the frog in the advertisement appeared to have genitalia, while some others complained about the frequency of the advertisement. Some ads that became subjects of public curiosity by stirring up maximum controversies include the following:

Daisy Girl: President Johnson’s Election Campaign

The ad showing a little girl was aired in the United States during the presidential elections of 1964 as part of president Lyndon B. Johnson’s election campaign. It began with a little girl counting petals in a meadow full of daisies. Suddenly, she looks at the sky and spots something strange and then the screen goes blank for a moment. After the screen comes back to life, a flash and a cloud, that appears after a nuclear explosion, are seen. A male voice then says, “These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.” It was aired only once and became one of the most controversial ads in the United States for using something as horrible as a nuclear war in its content.

Hitler and a Woman: AIDS Awareness Campaign

As a part of AIDS awareness campaign that stirred up a major controversy in Germany in 2009 showed Hitler and Stalin having sex with a woman. Supposedly, the ad aimed at highlighting the dangers of unprotected sex. Because of its content (couple having sex), it was not allowed to be broadcast before 9 p.m. each day. The ad shows Adolf Hitler’s face (for the man) and shows the slogan, ‘AIDS is a mass murderer”. The ad was telecast across Europe making organizations working for AIDS patients condemn it, questioning the comparison that was made between mass murderers and people with AIDS.

Ashton Kutcher Popchips

A huge controversy stirred up when, recently, Ashton Kutcher, the actor, did an ad for a chips brand called ‘Popchips’. He poses as Raj, a 34-year-old Indian Bollywood director, struggling in search of true love. He is dressed in traditional Indian clothing and flaunts a kind of Indian accent. Even more shocking is the brown make-up that he has applied in order to look ‘Indian’. All this became a subject of a big international debate when many viewers termed this ad as highly ‘racist’.

Heinz: Deli Mayo

An ad featuring two kids, a girl and a boy who refer to a male chef as their ‘mum’ created quite a controversy in the U.K. The chef is shown making sandwiches for the kids in a British family kitchen. The kids’ father, seemingly late for work, hurries past and bids a goodbye to the family after which he begins to leave. However, he is called back by the ‘mum’ for a more intimate adieu. The ad then features a kiss between the two men after which, owing to many complaints by the viewers about the ad being “offensive” and “inappropriate”, it was eventually banned during that period of the day when children could be watching.

Egyptian Anti-Spy Ad

About a year and a half after the Tahrir Square Uprising in Egypt, a very controversial ad was flashed on numerous Egyptian television channels. It features three Egyptian men sitting in a coffee shop when a foreigner walks in and joins them. All of them start talking on a very friendly note. Suddenly, one of the Egyptians speaks about some controversy against the army, that he supposedly overheard on the train. The foreigner immediately takes his mobile and texts this information to someone. A public message then appears on the screen, “Every word has a price. A word can save a nation.” Following serious opposition from the international community, this advert, much interpreted as an ‘anti-spy campaign’, was taken off air.

Controversial advertising does have its returns as well as pitfalls. While many companies may be asked to pay a fine if their ads are deemed to be controversial, there have been cases where the person responsible for the commercials has been jailed. For example, a few years ago, an in-house advertising idea caused employees of a bank to be put into prison. Their ad copy said that they wished to search for terrorists who could give them the most number of victims for their insurance policies. On the other hand, there have also been cases wherein the censoring authorities such as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have implied certain restrictions and continued airing the ads.

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Effective Website Marketing Strategies

Effective Website Marketing Strategies

So you want to put your business online, but you don’t know what to do? Here are some basic, but effective website marketing strategies for novices.

A website is an interesting tool for any business that wants to sell its products or services over the internet. While it gives your company a global presence, it also opens one more channel for enquiries to come in and sales to happen.

Your website is your company’s face on the internet, and needs to be treated as such. Here are a few things that will help you.

Analyze the following before embarking on this mission: What is the aim or goal of getting your website on the net? What is your target market? What is their age group and gender? What are their preferences in terms of colors and content? What is their spending capacity in relation to the product / service that you plan to sell on your site? Will your site make it easy for them to ask questions / place an order / access customer service and how? Who are your competitors? What makes them your competition? Why are you better than your competitors? What do you want to convey to the world via the site?

Be very specific when you answer these questions, because these are going to be your guidelines for designing the website and writing its content.

The website design must be in line with the overall ‘look and feel’ of your company’s marketing collateral (logo, brochure, letterhead etc.). At the same time, the design must not be “too heavy”. A rule of thumb is that the webpage should load in 12 seconds. Bear in mind, that not every person in the world has a broadband connection. There are still some people out there with slower dial-up connections, who might be your potential customers. The average viewer is not going to wait for too long for your page to load. He will move on.

The website content should give out all the relevant information to the viewers, without being too prosaic. The average viewer is not going to stick around on your site reading reams of data, unless he is writing a thesis on it. On the net, people want to see the information right away, in one sweeping glance. Make sure the content is short and sweet and to the point.

A simple website is written in a language called ‘Hyper Text Markup Language’ or HTML. Of course, there are other languages, programs, and code that have come up for adding functionality and beauty to your site.

The content of the website must be optimized for search engines. They make it easy for you to reach your target market. Go through their search engine optimization tips. Respect them and their rules.

The search engines look at the content of your website for ‘keywords‘. These are the words you type into the ‘search’ box while looking for something specific on the net. Keep your keywords relevant to your business. Include them into the content of your site. Write the code for with your keywords accordingly. Keep the content straightforward. Don’t overdo it with the keywords.

Use effective titles for each HTML page to make them easy to be searched. Don’t put all your various products / services on one selling page – this will confuse the customers. Categorize them and give them a page of their own. Do provide all the relevant information about your products / services in a brief, concise, and informative manner. Ensure that your website does not have any broken links. If you are going to have your brochures, etc., available for downloading, then be sure that they keep up with the ‘look and feel’ of all your marketing collateral (including the site).

Going further, you can hire professionals in this field to do the job for you. They can suggest even more effective strategies to ensure that your aim is met. Keep your site structure flexible, so that you can change it when you increase / decrease the number of your products / services. Log on to various relevant forums or networking sites to promote your site. Always keep it up-to-date.

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Postcard Marketing : Big Success at Low Prices

Postcard Marketing : Big Success at Low Prices

Postcard marketing is being key promotion mediums for small and middle scale firms & retailers to attract large customer chunk.

Marketing is the process of making customers aware of products and services, attracting new customers to a product or service, keeping existing customers interested in a product or service, building and maintaining a customer base for a product or service.

Marketing includes the activities of listening to customer needs, assessing the competitive landscape and then designing and creating products and services accompanied by messages that shape audience perceptions, leading to opportunities for revenue.

We have immense mediums to market & promote our business. Cost, speed and response rates are key attributes in any campaign.

Modern marketing era has introduced many levels of promotion. However TV ads, hoardings, newspapers, magazines and celebrities are considered in heavy & expensive mediums. If you are looking for less expensive, effective and speedy mediums, send your good news to your customers through postcard.

About Postcard Marketing

“Any business. Any service. Any product. Any target.” – is a simple definition of promotion through postcard marketing.

This type of marketing is being key promotion mediums for small and middle scale firms & retailers to attract large customer chunk.

Since early days postcard marketing has been favorite for guerilla marketers. Why?

1. Postcards are the fastest, easiest, most reliable way to dramatically increase your sales and profits without spending an extra dime more on advertising or promotion.
2. Postcards are eye-catching. A beautiful, full color glossy postcard is not going in the trash without first being read.
3. Postcards don’t need to be opened. They’re “naked” mail. No more trying to write envelope copy to get your prospects and customers to see what’s inside.
4. Postcards are ‘guerrilla marketing’ at its finest – they target your customers one-by-one instead of mass advertising.
5. Postcards are associated with happy memories – we all like getting postcards from friends and family on holidays.
6. Postcards create a pleasant emotional response because they are usually received by friends and family.

7. It is hidden from your competitor’s eyes. When you advertise your business anywhere else, your competition knows it. But when you use postcards to communicate with your customers, it is direct to them and your competition will have no idea.
8. If you are asking recipients to bring the card into your store for a special discount then it is easy to track campaign success rate also.
9. Postcard marketing is affordable, even for the smallest of businesses.
10. Cost of 5,000 postcards sized of 4.25″x6″ be somewhere $200. Isn’t it cheap to convey your message?
11. Postcards achieve almost 100 percent readership and generate a high rate of response.

Well now you agree to send postcards to your dear customers. But what will you send inside?

1. Gift Certificates & coupons
2. Sales after service
3. New schemes & products
4. Make them your favorites and invite them for special sale
5. Announcing your web presence
6. Special days – Holidays, birthdays & festivals
7. Reminders

Request to be in touch

1. Gratitude. Make your customers part of your every success. Thanks them on your success or awards.
2. Invite customers on special events
3. The firm’s move to a larger office
4. Survey forms with pre paid postage

What do you need at least to promote yourself through postcard marketing?

1. Identify your best customers or target market. Manage customers database & details on their first visit. Your first letter may be “Dear Customers” to invite them to your shop or nearest show room but latter on it should be personalized.
2. Print beautiful design & colored post card.
3. Hire advertising & promotion agency if needed.
4. Use online media or web to promote e-cards!
5. Make your marketing plan genuinely.
6. Don’t invest heavily on printing. Your postcard should look like a message from friend. Remember it is not an advertisement.
7. You can use Microsoft Publisher to design postcard your own way.
8. Even you can use portal like to design cards in best way.

Probably we are clear regarding post card marketing. However, it is to remind that postcard marketing is a part of guerilla marketing. Guerilla marketing is an unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources. Thus it is advisable to use postcard marketing as healthy tool to promote yourself.

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Is SMS Marketing the Next Wireless Revolution in the Field?

SMS Marketing: Wireless Revolution in Marketing

SMS is an extremely cost-effective and a high-response-rate vehicle. It can help companies acquire and retain consumers, sell and promote products, drive loyalty, and reinforce branding efforts.

Communication plays a vital role in marketing. Until today, we have seen newspapers, magazines, television, radio, hoardings, and the Internet as the major marketing and communication tools. In addition to that, telecommunication has provided us with this powerful technology known to us as mobile phones.

Short Message Service is a service that enables short messages of generally no more than 140-160 characters in length, to be transmitted and sent from a cell phone. SMS was initially introduced in the GSM system, but later, all other digital-based mobile communication systems started using this service. Unlike paging, but similar to email, short messages are forwarded and saved at the SMS centers, which means you can retrieve your messages later if you are not immediately available to receive them. If a phone is powered off or out of coverage, messages are stored in the network and are delivered at the next possible opportunity.

Mobile marketing is highly personalized, interactive, and has an immediate impact.

Attractive Features of Mobile Marketing

1. It is instant, direct, and fast.
2. It is a 2-way communication tool.
3. It is also effective for email marketing.
4. It is cost-effective.
5. It can easily be promoted through cross-media like radio, TV, or print.
6. It can be used for mass marketing.
7. It can be used to target markets, like professionals, old/young people, students, etc.

ICM Telephone Survey

(Carried out by: Enpocket, from Oct 2001 to Jan 2003)

1. The study revealed outstanding results for some of the best performing campaigns. Of the 100% people that received the texts: 46% responded (in some way), 27% replied, 19% visited a web site, and 15% visited a store.

2. 94% of the messages were ‘read’, which explains the high levels of response.

3. The average campaign delivers 15% responses (of any type), which is more than twice the average of what other industries have reported for direct mail (sources: Gartner, DMIS).

Who is the Tool Most Suited For?

“Mobile marketing is suited best to drive sales of consumer packaged goods, restaurant menu items, and high-street retail commodities — sectors that are advertised very little on-line to date.” – Jupiter Research analyst Dylan Brooks.

Case: McDonald’s tried SMS marketing by project “e-street”. The project signed up 2,500 mobile phone-users in the town of Lulea, Sweden, to receive SMS messages of special offers from 150 local organizations. After the volunteers were sent an SMS for a McDonald’s burger offer, 25 per cent of the targeted users took up the offer.

Code of Conduct

Every marketing technique is bound to follow some code of conduct. Slowly, SMS marketing is also being bound by law, so as to stop hassles caused by bulk messaging to consumers. Marketers will no longer be allowed to send unsolicited messages to mobiles under the current code of conduct.

Marketing Federation of Southern Africa (MFSA) with service providers has launched a new web site to curb the abuse of this direct marketing tool stating that, “Companies cannot send a commercial SMS unless the recipient has requested the SMS, or has a prior commercial relationship with the company.” Marketing association’s around the world have developed similar codes of conduct.

Every invention provides us with infinite possibilities; it is our actions that decide how that invention will shape our society. This tool is a boon for marketers if used ethically and in a responsible manner, but exploiting it may result in bans, bad reputation, and criticism.

Sending sms
Hand holding mobile smart phone
Mobile Marketing on smart phone
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