Most Controversial Ads of 2011 – Our Top 10 List

Where's Don Draper when you need him? FashionEtc has rounded up the year's most "offensive," "sexist," and "sexually provocative" campaigns.

The style set really knows how to stir the pot!

From steamy/disturbing tongue summits between world leaders to youngsters placed in some compromising positions, 2011 had more than its fair share of  provocative, and, in many cases, banned ads.

Below, 10 of the year's most "sexist," "offensive," "insensitive," and "hazardous" campaigns.

United Colors of Benneton

United Colors of Benetton Unhate

Never one to shy away from controversy, Benetton's first campaign in a decade went above and beyond by depicting (Photoshopped, in case you were wondering) liplocks between world leaders like President Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, and even Pope Benedict. Though the retailer claimed the ads championed a message of peace, many took offense. And, we have to admit, seeing the now-deceased Kim Jung-Il smooching the president of South Korea seems a little inappropriate.




Axe "Angels Will Fall"

Seeing lingerie-clad models sporting angel wings is par for the course in the U.S., but Christians in South Africa weren't amused with an Axe commercial featuring a pack of heavenly beauties ditching their halos as they pursued a freshly sprayed bachelor. The country's advertising watchdog ultimately banned the ad on the grounds that it offended Christians with its portrayal of "angels [who] are seen to forfeit, or perhaps forgo their heavenly status for mortal desires."


Marc Jacobs Oh Lola!


Marc Jacobs Oh, Lola!

Who knew Dakota Fanning was such a trouble-maker? The 17-year-old's ad campaign
for Marc Jacobs' latest scent was banned in England
. Apparently, the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) took issue with the placement of the oversized fragrance bottle on
her lap, which (eek!) "drew attention to her sexuality."




Levi's "Go Forth"

"The Protester" may have been Time's Person of the Year, but Levi's caught plenty of flak for its "Go Forth" commercial, which depicts a man squaring off against a riot squad. Chalk this one up to bad timing, as the video was released just after the devastating riots that brought London to its knees. The company agreed to postpone the ad's cinema and Facebook spots in the United Kingdom "out of sensitivity," but claimed its message was about "optimism, positive action, and a pioneering spirit."


Miu Miu Hailey Steinfeld

Miu Miu Fall 2011

Nearly getting murdered in True Grit earned 15-year-old Hailee Steinfeld an Oscar nom, but having the teen sit on some abandoned train tracks earned Miu Miu a slap on the wrist from Britain's ASA for "showing a child in a hazardous or dangerous situation." Steinfeld's weepy expression also drew complaints that the campaign glamorized teen suicide.




Hope Lingerie

Who could possibly find fault with a commercial featuring bombshell Gisele Bündchen
in skimpy lingerie
? Glad you asked. Officials in Brazil branded the TV spot—which sees
the top-earning model go from frumpy to foxy to soften the blow as she breaks some bad news to her husband—"sexist"... You be the judge.


Cadbury Milk Bliss Bar


Cadbury Dairy Milk Bliss

Cadbury was forced to apologize to supermodel Naomi Campbell after a chocolate bar ad featuring the tagline "Move over, Naomi, there's a new diva in town" was called "insulting and hurtful" by none other than Naomi Campbell. The model's mother also deemed the ads "racist," while black activists called for a boycott on parent company Kraft Foods.




Yves Saint Laurent Belle d'Opium

While having the word "opium" in its name probably didn't help matters, having actress Melanie Thierry cooing "I am your addiction" was what got this fragrance commercial banned in England for allegedly simulating drug use. Kate Moss's Dior Addict campaign, however, lives to see another day ...


Donna Karan Spring 2012

Donna Karan Spring 2012

The designer pays homage to Haiti with her sultry new campaign starring Adriana Lima,
but some have deemed the ads racially insensitive as they contrast luxury clothing with
local poverty. Worth noting: Lima wears jewelry designed by Haitian artists for Karan.




Old Navy "Super C-U-T-E"

Word to the wise: Actually keeping up the Kardashians can land you in court. Old Navy learned this the hard way when they hired raven-haired singer Melissa Molinaro to front
a denim commercial that riffed on the celebrity lifestyle enjoyed by a certain reality star. Kim Kardashian responded with a lawsuit charging the retailer with "unauthorized use of her name, likeness, identity, and persona."

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