Matthew Miller
Dec 18, 2017

The year's 10 most questionable ads

Our listicle-based look back at the year in APAC marketing and communications continues, with the 10 APAC ads that made the worst impression.

The year's 10 most questionable ads

In the last couple weeks before the holidays, we're taking a look back at 2017—listicle style. Today, the most problematic ads.

As we say every year, these may not be the worst ads, because the worst ads are surely those that make no impression at all. But each piece of work below was bad in its own particular way. Click through to read our original take on each one.

Presented in no particular order.

Handbag brand suggests exploding-dye accessory to colour thieves
Advertiser: Ash Be Nimble 
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Malaysia

"Other than the petition [for stronger laws against thieves], this is a bunch of attention-seeking nonsense, because the concept itself doesn't withstand scrutiny."

Astonishing Mercedes-Benz videos inspire Malaysians
Advertiser: Mercedes-Benz
Agency: Unknown

"For anyone who works in advertising, you'll know how hard and tiresome it is to build a brand from the ground up. It's discouraging and sad to see years of effort burnt to ashes in a matter of seconds." 

Bajaj Avenger botches 'women's liberation' ad
Advertiser: Bajaj
Agency: Mullen Lintas

"Wasn't there a more imaginative way to imply that a woman can wear 'whatever she wants' than dressing her in a series of low-cut tops and hot pants, with lingering shots on her bare legs (this does get the bike nicely in shot too, so you can see the #subtlenotsubtle thinking) and an overly sexualised scene in which she washes her hair at a tap on the road, conveniently managing not to smudge her perfect eye make-up as she does so?"

Poor residents of a flooded Philippines village need...KFC?
Advertiser: KFC
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather

"It's not any brand's obligation to solve world hunger or provide homes for unfortunate people. But if you're going to helicopter in—or float in on a precious little boat—and take promotional value out of a group of people, at least you could try to give more than a few hundred dollars worth of free food in return."

Has HSBC invented time travel?
Advertiser: HSBC
J Walter Thompson Singapore
"Why would a modern human being need the services of a minion in order to book a trip from Singapore to Paris? Because it makes them feel important to have a minion do it for them, even though actually booking the trip personally would surely take less time than even placing a telephone call to one's 'butler'."

'You can't guarantee a win', but brain damage is a near certainty'
Advertiser: Nike
Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai
"Brand money perpetuates these sports and creates the financial incentives that draw athletes into them, many times from a very young age. Are nihilism and misanthropy among your brand values?"

Ikea furniture solves problems, but only for men
Advertiser: Ikea
Agency: BBH Singapore

"I don't think it's too much to ask for advertising to get beyond such restrictive, antiquated, sexist views. I certainly expect more from a brand like Ikea, which fashions itself progressive."

Dumb ways avocados?
Advertiser: Subway Singapore
Agency: Dentsu Singapore

"If the people who made the Subway video were intentionally copying 'Dumb ways to die', they utterly missed why 'Dumb ways' was so great."

This new perfume from Huawei must smell amazing
Advertiser: Huawei
Agency: WPP Team Huawei

"It's surprising that we haven't heard more about Hauwei moving into the fragrance market."

Did you know Katie Holmes and Cuba Gooding Jr created New Zealand?
Advertiser: Air New Zealand
Agency: True

"One wonders how long the brand will continue to spend on elaborate videos that only reach the people who are already sitting on one of the airline's jets."

(This article first appeared on

Campaign India

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