Nothing gets attention for a brand quite like controversy. Food brands have had their fair share of embarrassments on social media this year, but old fashioned video commercials—for TV, as well as online—can still be lightning rods on occasion.
Here are five examples of five well-known food and beverage brands that took some chances in 2013. At least one was worth the risk. You make the call on the others.
1. MOUNTAIN DEW
Company: PepsiCo Inc.
What happened: If any publicity is good publicity, then Mountain Dew's brand people knew what they were doing when they recruited Tyler, the Creator to put together an extended video advertisement for their famous soft drink. They may not have expected to see the video referred to as "the most racist commercial in history," however. Have a look for yourself and make your own assessment.
Company: Coca-Cola GB
What happened: Coca-Cola crossed a line with the United Kingdom's Advertising Standards Authority by boasting about how to burn off "140 happy calories" that came from its beverage. The ad was banned in the U.K., despited the fact that it floated along just fine through the U.S., demonstrating how dog-walking and victory-dancing could get rid of Coke calories.
Company: General Mills Inc.
What happened: You might not think that a simple commercial featuring a child with interracial parents could provoke controversy in the U.S., but Cheerios has disabled the comments on this ad's YouTube page for good reason. Yes, lots of wonderful people showed up to support it; but plenty of others voiced opinions that were less polite. At the end of the day, it's without a doubt the most harmless ad on this list. Just ask these kids.
What happened: SodaStream decided to gun for some beverage giants in this ad that targeted everyone who manufactures drinks in disposable plastic bottles. The ad, which coincided with the Super Bowl this year, presented SodaStream as a carbonated beverage competitor with an altruistic mission. The company, of course, just wants to sell its product like anyone else, but it tossed rocks at a hornets' next with its insinuations.
5. SAMUEL ADAMS BOSTON LAGER
Company: Samuel Adams
What happened: The lesson here is to be careful paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence, especially when you launch an ad around the Fourth of July. As PRNewser noted, the Boston brewers omitted some words and struck an unpleasant chord when paying homage to their namesake's role signing the Declaration. The actor in the commercial lists a few of the ideas expressed in the famous document: "All men are created equal. They are endowed with certain unalienable rights."
The original text, of course, reads, “They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” You can probably guess how that choice was received by a number of dissatisfied commenters.
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