Nike, which has drawn outrage from some fans for its “Just Do It” ad with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, isn’t the only company faced with public scrutiny over advertisements. Here are seven controversial campaigns that have drawn social media ire.


In 2017, Pepsi pulled a YouTube ad starring Kendall Jenner quelling a protest by handing a can of soda to a police officer. Social justice activists mocked the company’s use of protests to sell soft drinks. Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi” — with a picture of her father being pushed back by a line of cops.”

Shea butter

Some Twitter users called for a boycott of SheaMoisture in 2017, after the hair care brand launched a one-minute video featuring three white women and one black woman with the tagline, “Embrace Hair in Every Form.” SheaMoisture’s customers, whom are predominantly women of color, felt excluded by the ad campaign, The Washington Post reported. The company quickly apologized in a Facebook post and wrote, “We should know better.”


The German skin care company thought it was a great idea to launch a “White Is Purity” deodorant ad on Facebook, along with a caption: “Keep it clean, keep it bright. Don’t let anything ruin it.” After Facebook users attacked it for promoting white supremacy, Nivea quickly pulled the post.

Victoria’s Secret

Women launched an online petition for the lingerie brand to apologize after creating “The Perfect Body” campaign featuring a slew of thin models in 2014. “It fails to celebrate the amazing diversity of women’s bodies by choosing to call only one body type ‘perfect,’” according to the petition, which collected more than 32,000 signatures.



The beer brand yanked its 30-second “light beer” ad in March after social media users accused it of being racist. The video shows a bartender sliding a Heineken down the bar past three black people before reaching a light-skinned woman. The commercial closes with the slogan: “Sometimes lighter is better,” which Chance the Rapper tweeted was “terribly racist.”


In 2017, Dove attempted to celebrate diversity with an ad showing a black woman turning herself into a white woman. Twitter users called it racist, and the company quickly pulled the commercial, followed by an apology on Facebook. “We missed the mark,” the statement read.

So uh… #Dove – what’s happening here?—
Chasity 👩🏾‍💻 (@chasityscooper) October 07, 2017


Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the MTA to pull subway ads by Amazon depicting Nazi insignia in 2015. The campaign was meant to publicize “The Man in the High Castle,” a TV series that was streaming on Amazon. The ads were shortly taken down.

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