List of 8 Social Media Anti Advertising Ads

Consumers Make (Parody) Ads Too.  What happens when the consumer fights back against the advertiser (using social media channels)? Now that the customer has access to most of the same channels as companies, what happens when they decide to create anti-ads?  Everyone from time to time has made a teensy little negative tweet on Twitter…

click to see the secret anti ad :)
click to see the secret anti ad 🙂

Consumers Make (Parody) Ads Too.  What happens when the consumer fights back against the advertiser (using social media channels)? Now that the customer has access to most of the same channels as companies, what happens when they decide to create anti-ads?  Everyone from time to time has made a teensy little negative tweet on Twitter or status update on Facebook or some other online community against a company. “Oh I hate that new deodorant/car/lime green eyeshadow” we rant then move on. It  takes a quite a lot of passion and commitment to shift the consumer from almost passive snippy media snacks like status updates to spending their weekend creating full blown anti ads. So I thought I’d put together a list of 8 or so anti branding ads with the lesson buried in the satire. If you want more information try: Wikipedia – Parody Advertisements.  I see this “consumer creating anti ads” as an offshoot to culture jamming.  Warning: May Make Advertising Agencies Cry.

1. Fotoshop by Adobé (A-do-bay)

“This commercial isn’t real, and neither are society’s standards of beauty.”

Not really an ad against Photoshop – oops Fotoshop 😉 – more against women’s magazines, airbrushed fashionistas and fiction in advertising. Dove soap did it officially, but this user generated ad by californian filmmaker Jesse Rosten is still interesting.

Lesson: You may not know what your product or service is being used for by customers, but the “ignorance is not a defence” applies when widespread harm is perceived by the community. You might as well be selling drugs or weapons for the brand damage it might do in the future.

2. Qantas parody – too many to mention

Qantas attracts parodies to their “I Still Call Australia Home” tagline like flies to … Probably because what they say is the antithesis of what they do. People aren’t stupid and that sort of mismatch of value systems is ripe for satire. I do like the “Downfall” parodies (Hitler throwing a tantie, a mashup from the movie Downfall) but these more amateur ones show the depth of disappointment in the Australian public towards our national airline.

Lesson: when customers are stranded in their tens of thousands, when your own staff create a massive anti-brand campaign ( and the Prime Minister of Australia gets stroppy, yes you really do have a “brand image problem”.

3.  Mastercard Priceless (NSFW – Not Safe For Work)

I showed this at a conference once and got told off. So you are duly warned. But still one of my fave parody ads.

Lesson: Your tagline, which you spent many a marketing dollar on, may come back to haunt you. Priceless.

4. ANTI Starbucks parody ad from Adbusters

Core message “The United States of Obesity”

From Adbusters – the guys behind the original #Occupy tags bring you #NoStarbucks. Guessing that Starbucks got the “advertising message”? Right back at ya, Starbucks. We’ve definitely progressed from the Consumerist (The Shopper Bites Back) of a few years ago to more activist Adbuster style voicing of our concerns today.

Lesson: Subvertising is perhaps closer to advertising than customer created content. Using professional actors, editors agencies, to take an activist message. But still, it works as an anti Ad.

5. Smoking is good for your health – Climate Reality Project

Comparing marketing tactics by tobacco companies to discredit smoking and health implications – and how the same tactics are being used today to discredit climate issues.

Lesson: The same “educational” broadcast tools in the hands of big budget, big advertisers are in the hands of anyone with a YouTube channel.

6. Tourism Australia – NOT.

10 Reasons NOT to come to Australia.

I loved it when New Zealand Tourism jumped in on this one – very cheeky.

Lesson: While the challenge  of a company coming up with a campaign tagline eg “10 reasons to come to australia”, then the consumer comes up with the anti message is old news, the fact that the consumer will often do it with more humour and self deprecation means it is often more effective.

7. Generic ranting and ratbaggery – MacDonalds

This type of anti-advertising has no redeeming virtues. Juvenile, rascist, pissing-around. These people create anti-ads to cater to the lowest denominator in society: shutting them up doesn’t make them go away.

Lesson: Don’t let crappy videos with 60 views a) influence senior execs into thinking that all user generated content is made by timewasting nutters and b) be wary how you respond. Getting the lawyers in is just as likely to bring the videos to the attention of a wider audience as it is to shut the great unwashed up. (see 8 ways to deal with negative criticism online)

8. GetUp! Call to action spoof videos

Politics and our Prime Minister. Really anything political is ripe for user generated anti ads, or even activist community anti ads. GetUp! is one of Australia’s citizen lobby group.

Lesson: An Influencer (person with a lot of followers) or Network Host (such as activist groups like GetUp!) can press community members into creating a lot of spoof anti-ads around your brand. If you think the odd random tweet is bad, wait until an activated anti-community comes calling.  How’s your social media monitoring coming along hmm?

Have you got a great spoof you’ve a mind to create and publish? What companies/taglines are just begging for a satirical ripoff video? Any favourites out there?

Ah well, all Press is Good Press, no?

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  1. Laurel, thanks for your post. A good collection of videos. I couldn’t help but think that the McDonalds vid was out of place and brought the tone down a bit too far.

    It’s not an anti-ad, but one of my all-time favorite pieces of user generated content is the video about United Airlines. United breaks guitars by Dave Carroll. With over 11 million views, the brand damage has been significant.

    The new lessons of ‘Seller Beware’ can come at a cost…


  2. The curious thing about most of these “ads” is that they are often smarter than the real ones. TV is not called the idiot box without reason. Ad agencies and clients need to make / approve smarter ads with more variations if they are to get more “cut through” on mainstream tv. Too often mainstream ads look like they are compromised and dumbed down which they are.

    Ironically many of the anti-ads featured would do well if they were picked up by the organisations they lampoon.

  3. This is really interesting. It is for the benefit of the consumers, right? Not for these companies? It is very informative.

    Thank you for sharing.

    -Lea Dee

  4. Hello! I know this is sort of off-topic but I had to ask. Does operating a well-established blog like yours require a large amount of work? I am brand new to blogging however I do write in my diary everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips for new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

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