January 15, 2022

Digital Marketing Education

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2021 in Review: 5 ads that offended

2021 was a precarious time to be an advertiser. With society ever more polarized along cultural lines (not to mention more angry people at home on the internet due to the pandemic), sometimes all it took was one negative comment on social media to set off a Twitterstorm, a Facebook pile-on or an Instagram conflagration. Here are some of the ideas that got people raging this year.

See Ad Age’s 2021 Year in Review here.

Cadbury’s Creme Egg kiss

Cadbury attracted the wrath of homophobes and hygiene obsessives with its U.K. TV ad in which a gay couple passed a Cadbury Crème Egg from mouth to mouth. But others praised the brand’s 50th anniversary spot, by agency Elvis, with several observing that advertising has often sexualized chocolate. As one pointed out: “People losing their minds over two men kissing over a Creme egg but have no problem with a woman cheating on her husband with an M&M?”  A petition by a Catholic campaigner calling for the ad to be pulled attracted 30,000 signatures, but eventually the U.K’s Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the spot could stay on air. Plus, Cadbury pointed out the actors were a real-life couple, so no social distancing rules were broken.