Advertisements are supposed to get a particular message or a product across to the public. However, some adverts are just too good at being bad. Add to the fact that the Philippines is not exactly one of the most liberal-minded countries in the world, and you have a sure-fire recipe for all-out controversy.
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Still, as the saying goes, bad publicity is still publicity. Here are ten adverts and the reasons why they were banned or pulled out.
1. LBC’s “Spelling Bee” Commercial (2009).
This seemingly harmless three-part commercial featuring “Spelling Bee” host Edu Manzano caused a stir in 2009 when the Department of Education complained it was encouraging wrong spelling among students.
In the commercial, Manzano can be seen asking three young students the spelling of “remittance,” “affordable,” and “instant.” He then congratulates them when they answer LBC (Luzon Brokerage Corporation) instead of the correct spelling. The company apologized and removed the ad soon thereafter.
2. KFC’s “#ChickenSad” Hashtag Ad (2014).
Remember the “chicken crisis” that hit fast-food giant Jollibee back in August 2014? Customers everywhere were shocked and disappointed after they couldn’t order Chickenjoy and other items on the menu for weeks.
Even as Jollibee management explained that their systems were undergoing an “upgrade,” its fast-food rival KFC couldn’t resist capitalizing on its competitor’s moment of weakness. Riding on the lack of Chickenjoy, KFC slapped the hashtag #ChickenSad on its own poster and reminded customers Jollibee wasn’t the only one with “Finger lickin’ good” chicken.
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Of course, the poster quickly set off a firestorm among fast-food patrons online. While some praised KFC’s ingenuity, others condemned the chain for being opportunistic. In a gracious move, KFC later removed its poster from its social media accounts.
3. EQ Diaper’s “Lapu-Lapu” Commercial (2013).
Did inferior quality diapers cause the Battle of Mactan? EQ Diapers would have us think that with their hugely controversial diaper ad in 2013.
The commercial, which shows Lapu-Lapu challenging Ferdinand Magellan to a fight after he disliked the diapers the latter gave him, did not sit well with members of the National Historical Commission and the people of Lapu-Lapu City who condemned it as a mockery and distortion of history.
The outrage at the commercial later resulted in it being pulled off the airwaves by the Advertising Board of the Philippines.
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4. Colt 45’s “Vava-Vroom Real Man Promo” (2010).
It was not only men who took notice of Colt 45’s steamy 2010 commercial featuring sexy actress Cristine Reyes in a white bikini being massaged by a guy on a beach. The ad was supposed to be a promo wherein a lucky winner would get the chance to spend a weekend getaway with Reyes.
The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) blasted Asia Brewery Incorporated for the steamy ad, saying it reduces women to mere commodities. Although the company defended its actions and said the concept of winning a date with a celebrity is nothing new, it later withdrew the commercial and edited an earlier one showing Reyes showering and getting ready for a date.
5. Napoleon Quince’s “Nakatikim Ka Na Ba Ng Kinse Anyos?” (2004).
Destileria Limtuaco, the maker of Napoleon Quince, ignited a public firestorm in 2004 when it posted billboards of its brandy along with the tagline “Nakatikim ka na ba ng kinse anyos”? (Have you tasted a 15-year-old?).
Protesters slammed the company for the apparent innuendo and successfully petitioned the Advertising Board of the Philippines to have the billboards removed. Instead of letting the controversy die, however, the company fought back with lawsuits against the Advertising Board which went all the way to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately for them, the high tribunal threw out their case in 2008.
6. Nice Day! Coffee’s Commercial (2014).
This is one commercial that will never hit mainstream television. The ad, featuring sexy actress Ellen Adarna in provocative poses while promoting the coffee brand, never got the nod from the censors to be played on national TV, for obvious reasons. As a consolation to the disappointed fans though, the commercial can still be seen online.
7. T-Bar’s “Sexy Girl Fight” Commercial (2012).
Just like Ellen Adarna’s coffee commercial, this is also one ad that will never see the light of day of public TV.
Directed by Raffy Francisco, the commercial features two scantily-clad girls fighting and ripping each other’s shirts off. While it never hit the mainstream, the commercial has been hugely successful in YouTube, garnering almost a million views.
8. Bayantel’s “Satisfaction Guarantee” Ad (2006).
In its bid to secure more subscribers, telecommunications firm Bayantel committed a major faux pas in 2006 when it posted a billboard of a semi-naked woman with a satisfied expression along with the words “Satisfaction Guarantee.”
To the company’s credit, however, they took down the sexually-implicit billboard before any major protests could form and replaced the image with that of a happy kid eating ice cream.
9. McDonald’s “Dada” Commercial (2002).
The 2002 commercial, which shows a father discreetly handing out French fries to his daughter under the table to get her to favor him over her mother, may look cute and innocent enough, but it was enough to arouse the anger of Senators Juan Flavier and Manny Villar.
Both solons criticized the commercial, saying that it encouraged the use of bribery and dishonesty to get results. McDonald’s eventually acceded to their demands and had the commercial pulled out. In its place, the highly-acclaimed “Karen-Gina Po” ad was used once again.
10. McDonald’s “BF-GF” Commercial (2011).
“It was shallow and cheapened human relationships.” Those were the words used by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) after it objected to a McDonald’s ad in 2011 showcasing two young children, a boy and a girl.
In the commercial, the girl asks the boy if she can be his girlfriend. The boy at firsts says no because girlfriends can be demanding but apparently changes his mind after the girl says all she wants is French fries.
While the fast-food chain acquiesced to the CBCP’s demands and pulled out the ad, many Filipinos, in turn, criticized the CBCP for putting malice in an otherwise harmless ad.
11. PLDT’s “Hello Billy” Commercial (2001).
Although PLDT’s “Hello Billy” series of commercials became hugely popular during its run in the early 2000s, one sore point that stood out was the stereotypical portrayal of homosexuals in some of its episodes.
In the commercial, the gay character Joey is made out to be a schemer who plans to break up the impending marriage of his best guy friend whom he is in love with by spreading false rumors about the latter’s fiancée. In the end, protests by gay rights groups forced PLDT to scrap the commercial in question.