• Mercedes Benstock

Controversial advertisements

I first thought of writing this topic when doing some PR work. We were each asked to pick out an advertisement of our choice and share why we believe it is controversial. At first, I couldn’t think of one, so I decided to google the subject. This is where I stumbled upon the website “oneextrapixel” and gasped as I read their article “60+ More Extreme and Controversial Ads to Stun You Again”. Scrolling through multiple advertisements that range from an elephant being duct taped, an elderly woman in an old peoples home knitting a hang rope, a butcher barbering a person with a butches knife, and multiple more.

While I felt like I had something to say about each of them, an advertisement that really stood out (in terms of fashion) was one named “Fashion Junkie” by Sisley. At first glance when looking at the advertisement I see two girls who look to be snorting cocaine, which cohesively from two straps of a dress. After researching other peoples viewpoint on the Sisleys ad, I learnt that Zoo Advertising in Shangahi, China had published the advertisement in June of 2007.

So are critics acting to hash against the controversial ad that is believed to support bad habits such as drugs, or maybe conveying that, in order to be fashionable cocaine should be used?

When I wanted to learn more about the company Sisley, I was led to a blog written by Brianna Dewulf. Sisley is an Italian based brand owned by United Colors of Benetton. To no surprise they are notoriously known for their racy advertisements, instead of their clothing. “It hit the Internet and is posted on a lot of other sites that have to do controversial advertising or as they sometimes call it “shockvertising.” The name speaks for itself.” She writes, going on to depict the companies advertising technique even more.

Aside from one girls breast hanging our of her dress (which I barely noticed until a follow blogger pointed it out!), a Chase credit card is also seen at the side of the dress with white powder on it (amusingly made to look like cocaine).

“I chose this ad out of all the other ones I saw on the Internet because this one just got to me. I can’t help but to think, “What the hell is wrong with their advertising agency?” Do they know how this might affect their audience?” says Brianna Dewulf. Meanwhile I can’t help but wonder what JP Morgan had to say about this public advertisement or how its legal?

I then went on to read another blog post written by Alex Sheppard, who writes how “nonchalantly” Sisley prints their name in the middle of the image, promoting the obsession and addiction to “fashion” as long as it’s with their brand. “They’ve managed to take a scenario that would turn most people away from the product and tried to sell their own with that message. It’s really quite astonishing.” she writes.

Once an organization has received product publicity in a magazine, it should market the publicity further to achieve maximum “sales punch”. Clearly this advertisement uses Pathos in order to invoke a strong reaction from those who see it and spark emotion. Sisley wanted to cross the line and grab peoples attention in order to get their name out there. Even if it meant reaching to extreme measures by having an advertisement with two models snorting lines of cocaine.

Over all this advertisement is like the saying “Bad Press is Better than No Press”, it incites anger and controversy around their name and brand image, but at the end of the day people were still talking about Sisley, which is exactly what advertisers want to happen. “

Being memorable” is one of the most important tasks in business, along with branding. A brand needs to stand out in every way that it can, especially as there are countless clothing advertisements and companies out there.

While I do believe that this advertisement is bold in terms of producing company awareness, I don’t believe that it will bring any more business to the brand. After all-how many dresses did you notice?