Controversial Advertising

Knife Crime

For my controversial advertisement’s, I will be doing 2 posters on the statistics of knife crime and how it effects us in different ways. Here is some research of controversial campaigns that have taken place recently.


This advertisement is a controversial advertisement against knife crime. The poster features a dead body with blood being shown coming out his body. This advertisement can be considered controversial because quite a lot of people aren’t great with blood. I really like how much of an impact the text has, directly giving the reader the message saying whats the real cost of carrying a knife. I like how this is straight to the point and simple, the use of photography gives this a greater impact.


This poster may not be as controversial as the last but still has a big impact to it. The reason i say its not as controversial is that the hand has like a comic book pattern on it. Aside from that, I really like the blood colour text that tells the readers that they should get rid of their knife before someone turns it on them. Its a great poster but like I said, the comic book look lets this one down as it has potential to be more controversial and have more of an impact.


This advertisement crosses photography with illustration, as it is a picture of a wall and some one has over laid it with text and an image to make it look like graffiti on a wall. I really like how this one has less of a distinctive message, with viewers having to pay attention to detail, but once they have figured the message, this is a very impactful poster I think. The illustration of the sheep head on a human body gives the text more of a story in my opinion, making this one have a big impact.


Like the last poster, this campaign also is illustrations on an image. I really like the message this one has given, with an evolution scale and the end being a grave stone. The viewer has to really pay attention to detail, but it has a very important message. It features the guy holding a knife, before being arrested and then killed because he was involved in knife crime. I wouldn’t say this one is that controversial, because of the illustration in place. If this poster would have used imagery then this would have been more controversial. The bold text at the top is also very eye catching which is good to the viewers.


This photo one of the more simplistic out of what I have researched. The photo has such a big impact and the fact that there is little text on this gives this quite a cold feel to it. The photo displays a man who has been stabbed lying on the pavement with the blade next to him, and a women who is ringing an ambulance for him. The message reads ‘There’s never just one victim. Help make it stop’. This makes the viewer think about how knife crime affects more than just one person, and that it needs to be stopped. Below it is a hashtag, which i think is really good because it involves a social element in which people can get involved and give their views on everything.


This final piece was a campaign which featured these 2 posters. The first one (left) has a picture of a man with stitches from a knife wound saying ‘carrying a knife doesn’t make you a man’. the second features an image of a used knife saying ‘bin a knife, save a life’. Neither of these are particularly controversial, both are quite easy to look at. If the picture of the guy with the stitches would have been bleeding etc. it could be considered controversial, but the image is black and white, with the wound also stitched up. Like this poster example and a few of the others i researched, they all seem to have a rhyme in it. This is a great method to stick a message in peoples heads, since they are more than likely going to remember the rhyme from just looking at the poster once.


My target audience for this will be aiming towards early teenagers who are trying to fit in with crowds and that etc. but i will also be aiming it young adults (18-30) because that is who knife crime effects the most.

I want to make it controversial by using blood and maybe a dead body, just to get my message across that knife crime is important. My plan is to have statistics on the blade of a knife while it is stuck in someone, saying how much knife crime has happened in the past year etc.

Controversial Advertisements

For this i am going to research posters/advertisements that were released and later banned because of them being to controversial.


This piece was a poster to advertise fashion company Sisley. The link behind this one is that they showed the models snorting cocaine, the link being fashion ‘junkie’. This was later banned with the controversy being that they are doing drugs. This wasn’t just one poster either, the company did a whole campaign to promote ‘fashion junkie’.


This series of posters was done by a sportswear company called Benetton. The campaign they were doing was called unhate and the posters featured many world leaders kissing each other to symbolise they they don’t hate each other. The ad was seen as controversial when the company received some dislike from the Vatican, with the use of the Pope on it.


This poster was done by the animal rights company called PETA. Since PETA is an on going campaign, they have been known to use controversy quite a lot to get their message across to viewers. The poster shows a seal with a bat beating a baby to death, the message being that the roles have reversed. With the insanely controversial imagery used, the companies ad was banned soon after release, along with the other controversial ads they made for that campaign.


This poster was done by fashion giants Dolce & Gabbana. The poster was done to just advertise the company. The controversy with this came when an organisation said the ad encouraged gang rape. The ad was later banned for looking like it was gang rape.


This ad was done by a retail company called New Form. The picture shows former German dictator Adolf Hitler dressed in pink uniform, with make up on and a love heart on his sleeve. The name of this campaign was called ‘change style – don’t follow your leader’. This ad was later banned for the use of a dictator who was the cause for so many deaths during the world war.


This series of advertisements was done for fashion company Supreme. It was photographed by Terry Richardson, a photography who is notorious for controversy. The series of ads were featured in the fashion companies book. The controversy behind this one being the fact that the model is in very very little clothing, exposing her body to much. The adverts were labelled as NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) and aren’t displayed anywhere in public.


Like the last one, this was also done by photographer Terry Richardson. The campaign was done for the first line of Tom Ford aftershave. The idea of the campaign was to show that the fragrance triggered sexual feelings/relations. The ad was soon after banned for the use of nudity within the ad, which Richardson was known for. The company later said the use of nudity was to convey the mood of the fragrance.

I think all of these ads are clever and the use of different controversial techniques made these stand out compared to other campaigns, so it really works.

Final Pieces

Non Controversial:

These are my non controversial advertisements to raise awareness against knife crime. After looking through my research, i realised even if it was non controversial, every single one had a serious meaning, so i decided to do it a little different.


I have decided to do an illustration. I have pen tooled a knife under a spotlight, with the shadow saying ‘Its not the answer’. It was very simple to make and it looks simplistic, which i like about it. I like the colours i used on it to make it stand out and even though it doesn’t look to serious, its eye catching to any viewer. I think it does work, I think regardless of its style, it still gets a message across. I have had a review from one of my class mates, and he said that he likes how it speaks to a younger audience as well as the target audience I spoke about before.


This is the same style poster and i changed it for a revolver, to show that regardless of the campaign, it works for anything. It is easily produced and looks great with any campaign that is put on it. I think my non controversial posters work really well.



This is my controversial poster. I struggled with this and it took a lot more time than the non controversial did. The blood and dead body on the image is what makes the this one controversial. I had to manipulate this image quite a lot, with both the bodies being separate images, and the blood/background to. I like how this one looks, it gives off a very dark message which I like. I think the message bubble really adds to this, showing the viewer that it can effect anyone at all. I think it does work really well. It gives off a message that I wanted within it. I have asked my class mate to give a review on this one as well. He said its very dark and disturbing which is a good thing with trying to get the meaning across, but he also said because this was a manipulation it wasn’t perfect, so next time i attempt it, i could try real imagery, rather than manipulating it all together. I think it was successful at getting the message across, It should make people realise what they are doing wrong. I think this links back to my research in the sense of, it links with the same dark imagery and dark message. I think like my class mate said, next time i will use real imagery on it, which will perhaps make it look more professionally done, as manipulation was quite hard to do.

I really like the outcome of both of my pieces, and they both have used different techniques to achieve the message i was trying to get across. My controversial piece was very close to propaganda, telling viewers to stop and my non controversial one was done with illustration. Knife crime in public information/social awareness campaigns are strongly represented, its a continuous campaign that people still try to get over to this day. I really like the outcome of my posters, and i think they work really well.




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