Forget having women drink milk to curb their PMS-induced mood swings, what drink is going to stifle their outrage over the California Milk Processor Board's controversial new ad campaign? Whether you think it's funny, totally out of line, or just lame, the subject is definitely touchy.
"Skinny can, fat controversy" was the popular headline when Diet Pepsi released its new "taller, sassier" skinny can design this past February. Public opinion has come fast, furious, and uncensored. "Talk about reinforcing negative stereotypes of women! It's as offensive to women as Virginia Slims!" "Whatever, if you're so offended, just don't buy it!" "How is this innovative? It looks like a Red Bull can!" "What a bunch of bologna — diet soda, like any kind of soda, isn't good for you!" "It's a can of soda, people — relax."
It wasn't the first time the company had caught public scorn for an ad campaign. A commercial for Pepsi Max aired during Super Bowl XLV led to several heated debates about unfavorable racial stereotyping. Why? Because it showed an African-American woman hitting a while female jogger in the head with a can of the soda after she catches her boyfriend checking her out.
Back in 2002, the coffee giant faced some seriously negative public backlash over an ad campaign for its then-new Tazo Citrus drinks. The promotional poster showed two of the frozen drinks side by side with a dragonfly appearing to be heading straight into one of the drinks. After complaints that the imagery was insensitive and too reminiscent of the 9/11 terror attacks, the company recalled the ads.
The company later faced more marketing drama in 2008 after launching a campaign targeted at women that used the word "skinny" to describe their fat- and sugar-free drinks.
Note to advertisers: Making fun of menopausal women is going to ruffle some feathers. A few years ago, some folks were not so amused by a commercial that featured a derange-looking Stepford housewife type who credited drinking Jack-in-the-Box smoothies with helping her survive hot flashes. Oh, and Jack calls menopausal women "street rat crazy".
Coffee brand Folgers apparently has a long history of running ads that toe the line between corny and outdated, and sexist. A 2010 ad was a little too 1950's for some as it featured a young girl who responded to getting scolded by her dad for staying out too late with, "Well, you're not gonna have to worry about that anymore," and then flashing her new engagement ring. Offended parties argued that the perspective was too old-school, making it seem as though her care was being passed on from her father to her husband-to-be.
A lot of people had a hard time swallowing the New York Health Department's 2009 anti-soda commercial in which a man drinks a soda can's worth of fat. The extreme campaign states that drinking one can of soda a day can make you 10 pounds fatter a year. Apparently they really, really don't want people to drink soda.
Jones Soda Company was actually the victim in this offensive marketing scandal. People were outraged in 2010 when an ad for the soda brand that depicted an array of offensive racially stereotypical caricatures surfaced in New Zealand. The company spokesperson later clarified that the ad was created independently of the company but a New Zealand-based ad company and was eventually removed.