Controversies in Advertising: A Content Analysis

Open Access
Brofermaker, Lois
Area of Honors:
Advertising/Public Relations
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Fuyuan Shen, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kristen M Kegerize, Honors Advisor
  • advertising
  • controversy
  • advertising controversies
  • controversial ad campaigns
When millions of dollars are on the line, the last thing a company wants to do is pull an ad campaign. Though some companies, such as Benetton, seek to be controversial, not all companies want their brands to be potentially perceived in a negative light. This thesis seeks to investigate the largely unexplored area of controversial advertising and provide insights into common reasons why an advertising campaign would be controversial. Through the aggregation and content analysis of pulled and protested advertising campaigns over the last ten years, and by highlighting notable examples of such, this thesis will show what to avoid if controversy is not the goal, and what kinds of campaigns resulted in controversy.