7 Terrifying 'Sexy' Ads That Failed Spectacularly
Most advertisers live by the mantra "sex sells." It's why beer commercials are set in swimming pools and why Tony the Tiger only wears a neckerchief. But, as we're about to show you, ad agencies who just toss sex into any campaign are like that guy who thinks throwing bacon onto every dish automatically makes it better. The actual results can be downright nightmarish:
The Sexy Way to Stop Eating Fish
Pictured: The most inexplicable tan line in history.
If a vegetarian wants to convince you to stop eating meat, they might show you pictures of adorable piggies or wide-eyed baby cows. Well, when they want to turn you off eating fish, that doesn't really work. Fish are jelly-squirting ocean monsters covered in scales and grasping tentacles. So when a U.K. group got together to warn people of the dangers of overfishing, they decided they had to really show the intimate relationship between fish and humans. And when we say "intimate," we mean the shit out of it.
We mean it this much: "Nude Sir Ben Kingsley getting to second base with a squid."
The ad campaign convinced far more celebrities than you might imagine to get photographed having sex with fish. For example, if you're a fan of Gotham, you and your terrible taste deserve to see that show's Sean Pertwee penetrating this monkfish:
"Oh, my ... young Master Bruce, I was not expecting you home so early."
The group responsible, Fishlove, says these poses are supposed to look like a "mother and her baby." Well, we don't know what kind of family photos they took as children, but let's look at another photo from their campaign. Here's Mick Jagger's daughter straddling a tuna:
"Say cheese! OK, now let's get one where your dorsal fin isn't up your girl's butthole."
They can act like being "too provocative" was just an unwanted side effect of jamming fish up nude celebrities and vice-versa, but sex with seafood is a very real fetish. In fact, according to cartoons, it's how everyone in Japan says hello. All we're saying is that whatever their motivation was, it's hard to see these pictures and think anything other than "sex with fish." To make matters stranger still, the group is funded in part by a Japanese restaurant, and they are careful on their website to specify that all the fish in these photographs were eaten afterward. So if you were wondering why your calamari tasted like it was marinated with Ben Kingsley's balls, it may have been.
The Sexy Scent of Date Rape, by P. Diddy
Unforgivable Woman. Don't trust him. It's chloroform.
The artist formerly known as Puff Daddy is a man of many ventures, including music, fitness water, and, most erotically, the scent Unforgivable Woman. It smells like a New Jersey chemical spill, and it sounds like it was named after something you'd call your girlfriend during an argument when you weren't quite ready to pull the trigger on the nuclear-option words. But this isn't a perfume review article. This is an article reviewing advertising sexiness. And that looks an awful lot like Puff Daddy sneaking up on an unconscious woman to steal her wallet, or worse.
She looks like she's coming back from a cocktail party at Bill Cosby's house, and he's making the face puppets make when their ventriloquist has been shot. It's something you'd show a prisoner attached to electrodes to see if he was cured of "rapist."
The campaign ran into more problems when P. Diddy made a TV commercial too raunchy to be shown on TV (it was only able to run on late-night British television). Unforgivable Woman was a fragrance for boning, but apparently only the kind that made people uncomfortable. P. also released a version for men called just regular Unforgivable, because "life without passion is unforgivable." The ads featured him in bed with two women, and he seemed to have learned from his Unforgivable Woman experience, because only one of the models appears to be catatonic, or worse:
Unforgivable for Men -- Shut up for a second. I need to figure out where we can hide this dead hooker.
The Sexy Way to Castrate Your Pets
When you're cutely telling us a cat wants to pee on me during sex we can't tell if you're making
an inappropriate joke or making an inappropriate everything.
If you've spent any time in seedy bars or on Vegas sidewalks, you might be familiar with flyers that advertise vagina-delivery services. They feature contact information, a lewd description of available services, and a picture of a woman who's almost certainly long gone missing. In the U.K., they're called "tart cards" and are traditionally stuck in phone booths.
"Hi, I'm Candi. I may be gone now, but my kidneys live on."
This prompts a few questions. Like, isn't prostitution illegal in the U.K.? (Technically, no.) Also, do they seriously still have phone booths there?" (Technically, yes.) Plus, aren't there more efficient ways for prostitutes to advertise themselves? (Yes. Technical ones.) And, most importantly, why would an animal welfare organization start making fake versions of these flyers featuring puppies and kittens?
It's ironic because that kitten really is a total whore.
These bizarre, semi-bestiality-themed PSAs started showing up in 2013 and are meant to encourage the neutering of pets. They're from the Mayhew Animal Home, who, like Bob Barker, want to cut the genitals off your pets to help combat roaming hoards of feral strays. But we have no idea why we're trying to explain it since they were already so clear with their messaging in ads like this:
This one barely even has a pun. It's ... this is just an ad for sex with dogs, isn't it?
The posters attracted the expected complaints from Christian groups and morality watchdogs. Jokes about fucking dogs while cats pee on you should be handled delicately or not at all. But the real problem with these ads has nothing to do with your stance on sexuality. It's this: How is anyone stumbling on these cards supposed to realize they're about pet neutering?
Let's assume no one genuinely mistook these for advertising cat and dog escorts. Even if that interested you, the idea of a cat answering a phone is absurd, especially with all those human penises in its mouth. So that leaves two possibilities. One, they're jokes put there by outrageous artists. Or two, they're actual sex ads trying to be cute.
This second idea is reasonable since in the U.K. tart cards are illegal, (though prostitution itself kind of isn't), so these could have been a way to skirt the law with innuendo. It's similar to how drug commercials don't have to list side effects if they never actually say the name of the drug. But those boner ads really "hammer" their innuendos at you until they "penetrate" your mind with "cock." These Mayhew cards may have some wordplay, but you know what words they don't have? "Neuter" or "spay" or their organization's "name." These people were so devoted to the art of parody they neglected to give any useful information on the front of the card other than their phone number. And if you see a picture of a cat asking to bang you next to a phone number and you decide to dial it, we hope you're doing so from prison, you monster.
"If you want to learn more about spaying your pets, press 1. For cat sex, stay on the line."
The Sexy Way to Not Castrate Your Pets
WARNING: Original photo contains bloody crotch.
Germans turning on their TV in 2011 might have been lucky enough to see the following ad. The commercial shows a naked man in bed, reclined in the favored position for "come get it." A woman enters, shaking off her robe. She goes under the covers, sexily maintaining eye contact until the last second. The man's face forms the universal sign for "here comes the mouth sex!" It's all very hot right up until the woman pulls a knife and cuts his dong off.
Suddenly the screen goes black and words appear: "Stop anesthetic-free pig castration." It's really quite the bait-and-switch. In fact, if you were an evil German scientist trying to train someone to get sexually aroused by anesthetic-free pig castration, it's exactly what you would make. What we're saying is that this commercial may be better at creating awful fetishes than it is at fixing pig crotch problems. The campaign also had a print version, "Feel Like a Pig." For your sanity, we cropped it when posting it above, but feel free to check out the full ad, featuring the whimpering nude man clutching bloody rags where his wang used to be.
Now, on one level, these ads are pretty damn effective. Horrifying? Yes. Attention-grabbing? Mission accomplished. But getting us to think about shrieking penis pain isn't quite enough to solve any problems. These ads are about anesthetic-free pig castration. Is that common, or is that something only lunatic German farmers do? And how can we help? Do we adopt a pig penis? Do we only buy ham that isn't screaming?
"Feel Like a Pig" wasn't the only sexualized animal-treatment ad the company produced. It was part of a larger series that included "Feel Like a Mink," featuring a naked woman cut open for her skin, and "Feel Like a Monkey," featuring a naked man getting his head clamped. They even made "Feel Like a Horse":
Wait, that actually looks kind of cool, "Horse."
"Feel Like a Horse" sort of illustrates the problem with casting fit, sexy models as representatives of terrorized animals. Instead of demonstrating the awful injustice of livestock branding, you're showing girls how edgy they'll look with a badass brand on their back. This kind of sexiness isn't how you get people to stop branding horses. This kind of sexiness is how you convince a horse to make centaurs with your daughter.
The Sexy Way to Store Your Humans in a Condom
It's like something you'd come upon right before monstrous spider legs pulled you into the shadows.
Condoms are the most important thing you'll ever wear on your penis, even if you're Nicolas Cage seducing the Declaration of Independence. If everyone was better about wearing condoms, Freddie Mercury might still be on tour and piles of women might still be having sex with Magic Johnson. So how do you convey this importance to the public in an ad campaign? Well, if you're Condomania, you do the above.
The problem is, if you're trying to make someone feel safe, you don't show them a picture of two humans vacuum-sealed to be eaten later on your home planet. The ad seems to have been going for some kind of "eternal bond" thing, but we'd argue they landed squarely in the area of "picnic lunch for space monsters."
The series is shot by asphyxiation aficionado and budding strangler "Photographer Hal." Hal scours dive bars and other seedy environments, scouting couples with the most vacuum-sealable faces. He then invites them over to his place to be wrapped in plastic, photographed, and presumably never heard from again. Inexplicably, several couples agreed to these terms, and are now almost certainly being prepared sous vide.
The Sexy Link Between Pubic Hair and Everything
"Urethra between the lines! It's groin to be a long time before you find
a deal this purrfect! Fallopian us on Twitter!"
Coming next is a trend that spans at least four continents, so strap yourself in. It goes back at least as far as 2009, when Singapore's Ministry of Waxing (which we hope is a salon and not an actual government department) came up with a fun promotion. Get a Brazilian wax, add a temporary bow tie tattoo, and they'd donate money to the Cat Welfare Society. The ad combined a naked woman, a cat, and puns, and since those three things make up 90 percent of the Internet, you may have already seen it. Two years later, an Australian salon shamelessly re-created both the ad and the promotion, except they clumsily Photoshopped existing pictures together instead of shooting their own:
"I don't work with pussies OR felines," zinged their photographer.
In 2012, PETA teamed up with Ministry of Waxing for another pun-based vaginal grooming ad, and as PETA tends to do, they went a little bonkers. Their creation was simply a furry purse on a pink background that protested fur, pubic hair, or both.
"Pubic hair: It's unFURgivable, woman!"
It turns out that a gaping, fuckable purse was a bit too subtle for PETA, so they came out with this:
They should never have made a Teen Wolf porn parody.
Never mind that fur doesn't look like that, pubic hair doesn't look like that, and we are so many layers of abstraction away from the horrors of fur-lined active wear that it's hard to remember what we're talking about. Was it Chewbacca's pubic hair? Please say yes.
Let's say you accept the premise of all these ads -- that women with crotch hair are automatically gross (and plenty of people who see the ad don't). Why would that also make fur trim gross? The only thing pubes and fur have in common is they're both hair, and our brain is already accustomed to categorizing hair and pubic hair in very separate sections. This is like trying to convince us water is gross because it's sometimes in toilets. These PETA ads seem like the work of someone so desperately lonely they forgot what they were mad about in the first place. They're the Linkin Park of activism.
The Sexy Way to Do Christmas
"Look, we can do this the hard way, or the really hard way."
We had to leave this one for the end. And we just want to say ... we're sorry.
So, what's sexier than Christmas and sex toys? Well, according to this ad from RFSU, in collaboration with Naked Sweden, anything. The official slogan reads "Christmas just got sexier," which isn't saying much since family, reindeer, and egg nog are the exact keywords paramedics use to counter Viagra overdoses. If a 400-pound drifter comes into your home like this, you don't think, "Sexy." You think, "It might be best to turn the gun on myself while I have the chance."
"Oh, I can cock that thing for you if you want ..."
Every detail of this is disturbing, from Santa's power-lifter abs to the tiny glimpse of his peach leopard thong. This man is here to do terrible things, and that's before you realize that entire sack is full of dildos. That's not a joke -- look closely.
"Stockings, you -- I'm not going until everything gets stuffed."
In one image, they managed to ruin both sex and Christmas, which, if you think about it, is pretty impressive. They probably give out awards for that kind of thing, down in that special part of hell reserved for advertisers.
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