Bad ads: No pigs (porcine or male chauvinist varieties) allowed


We probably all share a love-hate relationship with commercials. Good ads, while still trying to sell us something, can be inspiring. Bad ads, well, that’s why they invented the remote control. And then there are the ads that, for whatever reason, leave us speechless. Let’s take a look a couple examples of the latter.

At first glance, these Brazilian ads for Itambé Fit Light Yogurt appear to be nothing but lovely, sexy, refreshingly different shots of plus-size models reenacting famous scenes from films (Mena Suvari in American Beauty, Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct). But the devil, he is always in the details. Read the fine print tagline and get a slap in the face: “Forget about it. Men’s preference will never change. Fit Light Yogurt.”

My reaction went from “Oh, how cool!” to “What the hell!” in 1.5 seconds flat, too. These ads are more than offensive; they’re cruel. Each model has a confident radiance that is then mocked mercilessly by an industry that wants us to feel bad so we’ll buy their stuff. In protest, I’m going to look up that American Beauty beauty and invite her to roll around in rose petals with me. Seriously, she’s hot.

And now, let’s get outraged at an ad not because of what it ran, but because it couldn’t run at all. Trojan condoms (I know, I know — stay with me) had its new commercial “Evolve” rejected by both CBS and FOX. It’s basically humorous (a pig with a cell phone, that’s comedy!) It calls men pigs (no comment). And it says those men who use condoms might actually be more evolved than those who don’t (agreed). As Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief executive of the advertising agency that created the “Evolve” campaign, said, “We have to change the perception that carrying a condom for women or men is a sign they’re on the prowl and just want to have sex. It’s a sign of somebody being prepared — if the opportunity arises — to think about their own health and the health and safety of their partner.”

Still, the powers that be at CBS and Fox deemed the spot inappropriate. And, again, the devil loves hiding out in those details. Get the reasons why. From CBS: “While we understand and appreciate the humor of this creative, we do not find it appropriate for our network even with late-night-only restrictions.” OK, sure, but those erectile dysfunction ads you run nonstop during every sporting event are A-OK day and night? Apparently, you can get it up all you want, but heaven forbid if you try to cover it up.

But leave it to Fox to not only take, but bake and frost the crazy cake. The network’s reason: “Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy.” Words, I can’t find the words.

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