8 controversial campaigns that have gone viral!

Controversy in marketing can be an effective way to get your brand noticed and your message across your target audience. Based on Entrepreneur’s controversial marketing article, let’s see how major brands like Nike and Gillette managed to grab people’s attention by taking a stand on social and political issues, as well as incorporating social responsibility into their marketing efforts.

1. Nike’s ‘Believe in Something’

Featuring ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick who used his social media to make a bold statement against racial injustice, Nike’s anniversary campaign was one of the most controversial ads in recent years. Colin is a powerful symbol who believes in rising up even if it feels like the whole world is against you so this campaign is a great example of how influencers must mirror brand values.

2. Burger King’s ‘Whopper Neutrality’

Burger King instead of advertising its delicious whopper burger by showing how juicy it is, they decided to send a political message by using metaphor and parody to explain the complex public policy of net neutrality, making it easier for many people to understand the severity of this principle.

3. Weight Watchers’ partnership with DJ Khaled

A rather unusual partnership between a weight loss brand and American DJ, rapper and social media superstar, DJ Khaled. This is a great example of how Weight Watchers broaden their audience – young males – through DJ Khaled who brings his weight-loss mission to millions of followers.

4. Gillette’s ‘We Believe: The Best Men Can Be’

Gillette has shaped perceptions of masculinity for decades, but this time it takes a modern view of society by inspiring men to be the best men they can be, by promoting positive, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man. Even though the ad caused a large divide, it had a great appeal to women and millennials.

5. Anheuser-Busch’s ‘Born the Hard Way’

Sometimes Americans forget that they have immigrant roots, so Anheuser-Busch’s ad ‘Born the Hard Way’ decided to remind people (during America’s most important game – the Superbowl) that their ancestors immigrated there with the hope of a better life. Even though it was heavily criticized for touching a sensitive issue, it was overall well-received.

6. Airbnb’s #WeAccept

Airbnb, just like Anheuser-Busch, attempted to touch a sensitive issue – the issue of Syrian refugees. Through the #WeAccept campaign, pledges to provide short-term housing to over 100k refugees, disaster survivors and other displaced people over the next five years. The commercial was Airbnb’s attempt to encourage the public to open their homes to people from around the globe.

7. Equinox’s ‘Commit to Something’

The US-based luxury fitness brand, Equinox, through its controversial marketing campaign ‘Commit to Something’ encourages people to change something in their lives. It doesn’t really matter what that it as long as they take action and be committed to it. Even though they choose sexy photos for this campaign, it was the right message at the right moment (the start of a new year).

8. Poo-Pourri’s ‘Girls Don’t Poop’

The commercial of the bathroom freshener Poo-Pourri attempts to break the stigma related to women going number two, encouraging women to stop feeling embarrassed about their bathroom habits. By being humorous and relatable, the odour eliminating spray brand managed to replace embarrassment with confidence in any bathroom situation.