Crisis Relief Singapore
- These advertisements are "shockvertising" at its finest — or worst, depending on the consumer.
- Most of the organizations trying to shock the audience aren’t pushing a product. Some ads come from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), PETA, or UN Women.
- However, ads that promote a product often shock consumers unintentionally.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
They call it "shockvertising" — ads made to shock their way into your memory by way of gruesome violence, over-the-top sexuality, or other taboo-shredding imagery.
Ad agencies around the world have adopted the audacious method, with the marketing pros behind activist organizations like PETA specializing in scandalous imagery.
Italian clothing retailer Benetton pioneered the style in the 1980s. Its now-iconic campaigns have received mixed reviews, like an award-winning AIDS awareness ad from 1991 that showed a father holding the lifeless body of his son in a hospital bed.
The style is powerful, but it can backfire: the World Wildlife Fund drew ire for comparing the 2004 Tsunami disaster to the World Trade Center attack.
We took images from the past few decades to give you a look into the global shockvertising scene. It’s up to you to decide if they’re brilliant, offensive, or both.
Here are 33 of the most shocking ads in print history.
Kim Bhasin contributed research to a previous version of this article.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America suggests an imbalance in American legislation. "Little Red Riding Hood." (USA, 2013)
Moms Demand Action
UN Women uses actual Google auto-completes to show how widespread misogyny is. "Women Need To Be Seen As Equal." (International, 2013)
Ogilvy & Mather Dubai
The International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism made an illustration of systemic racism. "Your skin color shouldn’t dictate your future." (France, 2013)
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