Locate two current (within the last 12 months) advertisements -- one that you find offensive and one that you consider to be "the best." (Each must be from different media types, both must be from...

Locate two current (within the last 12 months) advertisements -- one that you find offensive and one that you consider to be "the best." (Each must be from different media types, both must be from American media, and actual source documentation must be provided for where and when the ads ran.)  Prepare a two page typed critique discussing why you find one ad offensive and the other ad great. Also state how you would correct the offensive ad.

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Deciding the "best" and "worst" of anything is subjective, which means that it's up to individual taste, reasoning, or preference. (Ask a group of people a question like what are the best and worst restaurants in town, the best and worst movies, or the best and worst places to visit and then note the vast range of answers you'll get. Some of the "bests" and worsts" could even be the same!)

What might help you a little more than listing just one "best" and "worst" is to give some key elements that make a commercial effective or ineffective. We can presume that if a commercial is not working, it will be removed from the air, since the goal is either to garner attention by creating some kind of a "buzz" or making money. They are

used to encourage, persuade, or manipulate an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to take or continue to take some action.

If a commercial stays around, it is working.

The list of things which might land a commercial on the "worst" list could include the following:

  • Too sexy. While this is subjective and surely depends on audience, there are plenty of people who don't appreciate scantily clad women (hardly ever men) acting overly sexy as they promote a product. Parents, in particular, often do not want their children to be exposed to this. One perfect and consistent example of this is the Hardees commercials. If you do a little checking, their demographic is 18-to-35-year-old males, and that is exactly who might appreciate these ads; others can find them highly offensive, but the company is not concerned with them because that is not their prime customer.
  • Too explicit. This is also subjective, but nearly every one of the Viagra-type products is very explicit in its language, though the visual components are fairly inoffensive. Listening to the descriptions can be uncomfortable, at best, for many viewers. Lately there have also been several female versions of this kind of commercial, which are even more explicit both visually and in language. 
  • Too gross or disgusting. Though they are in animated form, the "creatures" that represent ugly stuff can be considered the worst. The Lamisil creature ("Digger") that represents fungus is pretty yucky, as is the mucus creature. More realistic are the commercials which display dissipated druggies as a deterrent to drug use or someone breathing through a tube to emphasize the hazards of smoking. The easiest to find is the Febreze commercials which put all kinds of gross things in a room with their air freshener. It may smell fresh, but it's sure gross to look at.

Obviously there are plenty of other things to add to this list. On the other side, there are some simple and rather universal elements which make a commercial appealing and therefore effective.

  • Multicultural appeal. Consider the Cheerios commercial which aired during the Super Bowl this year. An interracial couple is expecting another baby; their adorable bi-racial child wants a dog, too. 
  • Humor. Same Cheerios commercial plus many others.
  • Cuteness. Cheerios again, and anything with cute babies or cute animals.
  • Emotional appeal. Another Super Bowl commercial really hit big on this element with the Budweiser ad called "Puppy Love." Horse, puppy, relationship, adoption, determination, and love. This one has it all.

Though this is completely subjective, I hope these general observations will help prompt you to consider what you like and don't like in the commercials that bombard us every day. 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that in the past year, one can find many different examples of advertisements that are represent "the best' and attempts that can be seen as offensive.  One example of the latter would be a billboard print ad from McDonalds.  The advertisement which ran in the Boston setting "shows a woman with her head in her hands, clearly in distress. It tells fellow Big Mac lovers 'You Are Not Alone,' and has an 800 number for them to call."  In trade publications and wider media outlets, the ad was perceived as offensive to those who struggle with mental health issues.  The way in which the ad "makes fun of public service advertisements for people who may need mental health counseling" and the fact that it is used to sell fast- food makes it offensive.  Using terms like "suffering" on an emotional level for the need of a Big Mac might represent an attempt at cutting edge humor that fell flat.  The ad highlighted "the real crisis" for McDonald's of health concerns.

In the McDonald's ad, a sense of failure was enhanced because people were not brought into the product's advertisement mechanism.  The division the ad caused helped to make people more critical of it.  In 2013, Geico put out a television ad extolling the virtues of Wednesday as "Hump Day" and displaying a camel's level of appreciation.  This ad received much in way of acclaim. It was a good ad for a couple of reasons.  The first was that the ad effectively displayed a talking animal, something that is going to create an "in" with the audience.  At the same time, it humanized the context.  There always seems to be that annoying person in work settings that drives a particular joke or reference into the ground.  The Camel trying to engage everyone as to Wednesday being "HUMP DAY" was effective because it brought the audience into it.  People automatically recognized the camel as someone they knew from work. Even the way the camel repeats "Mike" became part of the ad's appeal.  The exasperation and frustration that the coworkers exhibit was an immediately shared reaction.  At the same time, the refrain of "HUMP DAY" became an immediately recognizable aspect of the ad.  It became a downloaded ring tone, a catch phrase that people at work started to use quite openly.  Resonating on these levels, this ad within the past year has to be seen as effective and representative of what good advertising can be.  

tyler-k | Student

One recent TV advertisement upset my grandmother so much that she called the company and sent them a formal complaint. I never saw it myself, but she told me it was a Clearasil ad depicting two teenage boys talking about acne and how to get rid of it "fast." She said that the two boys ended up on the wings of a plane. To her, that was an unnecessarily dangerous action, even though it was probably fake. I searched for the commercial and put a link below of the one I believe she was offended by. 

In my opinion, some of the best commercials on TV are the AT&T "It's Not Complicated" commercials with the little children. These commercials are humorous, but not at the expense of any other company. They are entertaining and eye catching, and they seem to get their point across. I also put a link to one of these commercials below. 

I find many ads for clothes and manly perfumes offencive because they show women in a limted state and kinda promote the wole skinny beauty factor. Ofcourse in the past couple months ive seen it improve by a bit. But by far my fav add has to be this one ad that came out jn india and it made me so happy because I have personally felt victimised to this topic everytime I visit. Last time I visited I was 16 and it was the middle of June and I wore shorts that were only 3 inches above my knees they were prity long but it was so hot and I went outside with family and I kept getting perverted looks from men and out of the two months I was there that was the only day I wore shorts.  Anyways the add shows how men look at women ...litterally. like the first scene is this girl on a bike and these two guys on a bike stop at the same red light but then the guys start staring at the girl in a sexual way and she notices and shuts her helmet which shows their reflection. The men get startled by their lustful faces and look away in shame. Theres more then one part to this add but I feel like I will go on forever.