*Warning - contains graphic images that may not be suitable for all.
Back when adverts were expensive to make, it was a huge risk for brands to produce a TV ad that had the potential to be banned. With the rise of YouTube, the playing field has changed drastically as nowadays adverts are not only designed to grab our attention, but also to become viral. And nothing does that better than a controversial ad. Take Fiat USA's 500 Abarth Super Bowl XLVI commercial that featured the stunning Romanian supermodel Catrinel Menghia.
This has accumulated over 8 million hits and counting. Why? Because everyone wants to see a sexy girl dropping froth on her cleavage while seducing a nerd. Now, regardless the fact the advert is in fact extremely tame, pro-family groups were compelled to criticize the ad's overt sexual nature. Naturally, this only had the impact of encouraging more people to check it out and share it. It's not just sexual ads that make the most of the online medium. Other controversial subjects including cruelty to animals, verbal abuse and even death, also have the capacity to cause a viral storm.
We've put together some of the best controversial car commercials both past and present* which crossed the line, received heavy condemnation and in some cases got banned. Their common link is the fact they earned their brands a considerable online presence.
This video is a combination of two commercials for the Ford Sportka - The Ka's evil twin - that were aired briefly in the UK before being pulled after consumer complaints mounted. We are assured that no cats were killed during the making of the ads.
When watching this hilarious Dacia ad, bear in mind that the Romanian language is packed with provocative and incendiary phrases. Banter between the Dacia salesman and prospective clients include fighting talk such as "I bet you did it on the backseat with your mother. While your father watched." Clearly a commercial that was never intended to air on TV.
Pulled from TV for obvious reasons, this hard-hitting Hyundai Velostar commercial employs shock tactics best reserved for a scary movie. Those with a nervous disposition please proceed with caution.
The basis of this banned Smart ad, made up almost entirely of clips of cheesy action and horror movies, is that it's not always beneficial to have back seats, especially if you happen to find yourself in a movie. Clearly tongue-and-cheek, it nonetheless offended some who thought it was too violent what with all the shooting, stabbings, and karate chops to the neck.
Perfect breasts bouncing up and down to demonstrate the Nissan Pathfinder's independent suspension was undoubtedly a stroke of marketing genius.
This controversial commercial promoting the Renault Twingo features a lesbian bedroom scene where a brunette strips down to her lingerie before being blindfolded with a silk stocking by a blonde. Local gay groups were apparently incensed by the ad, while Italian TV stations refused to air it.
The final advert in the series features a VW engineer fighting with various versions of himself using car parts as weapons. An advertising watchdog deemed it 'shocking, offensive, and unsuitable for children.' With over 1,000 complaints, it was one of the most complained about car adverts of all time.