Edgy ads or just really bad taste?

Despite public apologies, some blue chip brands find themselves in the PR hot seat over offensive ads. The push to be ‘creative’ is simply backfiring.

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After three renowned agencies recently developed advertisements resulting in public humiliation for their blue chip clients, one would think so.

In recent weeks, heads rolled over at JWT India for the apparent leak of an ad depicting the controversial Silvio Berlusconi driving a Ford Figo with three women bound and gagged in the trunk. Ford followed up with a public apology, setting sensitivities on high over potentially offensive campaigns.

Yet in the past two weeks, Hyundai Europe, Pepsico, and General Motors have all circulated public apologies for ads that fueled public disgust instead of piquing consumers’ interest.

“I believe that today, more than ever it is important to have a check and balance before pushing messages out to the public,” says Karen Swim, PR and marketing communications professional. “PR can help identify potential landmines and ensure that content does not diminish a brand’s reputation and credibility with the intended audience.”

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