The Gallery Of Banned Advertising

A visual guide to forbidden advertising from the modern age.

We’ve written a lot about ‘banned’ advertising here on The Reprobate – the ludicrous social engineering and moral prudishness of Britain’s self-appointed ad censors the ASA is often too hard to resist mocking. No doubt there will be more mockery to come, as this collective of purse-lipped humourless idiots shows no sign of loosening up any time soon – in fact, now that they have included gender stereotyping amongst the reasons to ban ads, it seems likely that we’ll get even more bizarre decisions based on a single complaint from some professionally-offended busybody.

Still, it seems the right time to publish a visual guide to banned ads as a quick and easy reference guide to what you are not allowed to see. We’re sticking with ads that have been banned or quickly withdrawn after cynically orchestrated public outrage in the last decade or so – it’s easy and lazy to go back to the 1950s – 1980s and dig out ads that wouldn’t fly today for assorted reasons but which were never actually banned at the time. And we’re not including those banned for more sensible reasons – misleading claims and outright lies about health benefits for instance – or the health ads that deliberately use shock tactics but have rarely fallen foul of the ad censors. And we’ve not included American Apparel ads because they are a whole article in themselves. We have, however, included those rejected by billboard companies, local authorities, magazines and public transport. Print ads only at this stage…

This is, it must be said, a very British selection simply because most other countries don’t have quasi-official bodies who issue ‘bans’ – actually demands that companies never use said ads again that are enforced by a misguided agreement with publishers, billboard companies and so on – based on ideas of sexualisation that often seem to say more about the thinking of those complaining than they do about the ad itself or the idea that offence equals ‘harm’. Obviously, as with all such galleries on The Reprobate, we encourage reader submissions of additional examples.

For fun, we’re not going to say just why these ads were banned – some are more obvious than others, but see if you can figure it out for yourself…

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