Really… Bad… Ads…

By Ryan Baldwin

Every advertisement can show us the right and wrong way to reach a campaign’s goal. It’s crucial we study and understand how certain advertisements have succeeded to know what’s effective. It’s also important to learn the ways professionals do their jobs, so we can implement the same skills into our future careers. However, it is just as valuable to learn from professionals who have failed. In this blog, we will be taking a look at some campaigns which did not go the same way the companies would’ve hoped. 

These are some really bad ads…

Bud Light: Up for Whatever campaign

Screenshot (66)

In 2013 Bud Light started a campaign titled “Up for Whatever.” It targeted college students, trying to show them that their beer was fun and spontaneous. The campaign was having no effect at first, it wasn’t a big hit but it also wasn’t getting any backlash. However, this all changed in 2015 when they printed, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night” on their bottles. Bud Light immediately started getting tweets from all over twitter of people connecting this to rape. As alcohol is already related to rape, this made it seem as if Bud Light did not care and was not on the victim’s side. Bud Light soon got the unofficial title of the “date rape beer.” Bud Light issued an apology and ended their campaign. 

This shows how important it is as an advertiser to pay much more attention to others and be socially responsible, as ignorance can effectively end a campaign in a heartbeat. 


Nivea: White is Purity Campaign 

white is purity

In 2017 Nivea a German skincare company posted the above image onto Facebook. You don’t need to be an expert to see what’s wrong here. However, Nivea either couldn’t tell or didn’t care. They were quickly attacked on several social platforms for being racist. The ad was taken down the same day but the damage was already done. The company later released this statement after taking it down, “We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post. After realizing that the post is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.”

Being out of touch is the worst trait you can have as an advertiser, and it’s shown here. If you can’t predict how your audience is going to react, that means you don’t even know your own audience.  


Protein World: Are you Beach Body Ready

beach body ready

While trying to discover various botched ads for this blog, this campaign showed up the most. With how controversial it became it was I am shocked I have never heard of it. In 2015 Protein World released its “Are you Beach Body Ready Campaign.” The ad above was placed on billboards and inside subways all over America and some parts of Europe. The public was intimately out aged by the image and expectations Protein World was placing on them. The ad was suggesting that if you are not in perfect shape, then you shouldn’t go to the beach. A petition was made of more than 70,000 signatures to take down the ad. There were even eating disorder charities and foundations that publicly spoke out about the ad. In the end however, the ad was not taken down. Protein World issued an apology saying it was not trying to offend women of different body types, it was trying to show what their product could do.

Having character and values are extremely important. Without it, your ads may become less about selling and more about manipulating. This is isn’t effective, and as shown here it only results in losses and failure of a campaign. 


It is important for us to learn from both great and bad ads. We need to understand what we want to replicate from others but also know the mistakes others have made to ensure we don’t follow the same path. Looking at both good and bad ads will allow us to make the most out of our careers.



Kottasova, R. (April 2017). Nivea pulls ‘White is Purity Ad After Outcry. CNN. Retrieved from: 

Rhodes, E. (May 2017). Thoughts on Bud Light’s ‘Up for Whatever’ Campaign.’  Medium. Retrieved from:

Sweney, M. (June 2015). Protein World’s ‘Beach Body Ready’ ads do not Objectify Women, Says Watchdog. The Guardian. Retrieved from:


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