December kicked off with the fitness startup Peloton being mocked for its polarizing holiday campaign.
People on social media accused the brand of being out-of-touch, calling the fitness startup's 30-second commercial sexist, unrealistic and cringeworthy. However, the company's ad is far from the first to cause a stir this year.
In fact, it's just the latest to enter the nation's war with big brands over what messaging is OK to share, and what should've been left on the cutting room floor.
Remember when Burberry apologized after people attacked the company on social media for making a hoodie with a noose-like knot on it? Or when the Gillette ad sparked intense online debate after calling on men to do better in the #MeToo Era?
"Is it possible that brands are purposely putting out ads that will begin a dialogue, even if that dialogue is negative," said Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, which has represented a slew of blue-chip brands such as Barnes & Noble, Anheuser-Busch and Coca-Cola. "The missteps and even inarguably offensive ads have seemingly grown in number recently."
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Here's a look back at some of the biggest controversial branded messaging of 2019:
1. Burberry's noose hoodie: The high fashion brand apologized in February for sending a model down the runway during London Fashion Week wearing a hoodie with a noose around the neck. Critics on social media said the noose glamorized suicide and lynching.
2. Gillette "toxic masculinity": The razor-maker received backlash after a 2-minute-long ad promoted the ideals of the #MeToo movement. The ad depicted violence between boys, and sexism in films. The ad was praised by many, but it drew angry criticism from some calling it "anti-male."
3. Gucci's blackface sweater: After Gucci's wool sweater sparked outrage on social media for appearing to mimic blackface, the company swiftly apologized and scraped the product from its website in February.
4. H&M unkempt hair: The fast-fashion company was slammed after posting an ad featuring a black model with natural hair. In the ad, the young model’s kinky hair is pulled back into a ponytail, though her edges appear to be uncombed.
This week a picture of a young black girl modeling for H&M’s latest children’s wear campaign went viral with users in outrage over her “unkempt hair”.Many expressed that they were frustrated with the lack of attention black children continue to get from editorial teams. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/DjntnfXL5C— Provok Clothing (@LiveProvok) September 22, 2019
Critics said the company should not have posted the young model with her hair not styled.
5. Burger King chopsticks: The burger chain removed an ad for a new Vietnamese burger in New Zealand after being accused of being culturally insensitive. People on Twitter said the ad mocked Asian food customs, in part, because the actors tried to eat a burger with chopsticks.
.@BurgerKing has apologized for its @instagram video about people eating a burger with chopsticks, saying the ad was "insensitive and does not reflect our brand values regarding diversity and inclusion." pic.twitter.com/pUEFJivlZc— Yicai Global 第一财经 (@yicaichina) April 9, 2019
6. Dior Sauvage: In August, the luxury brand pulled its film campaign featuring Johnny Depp after receiving criticism for featuring Native American imagery.
7. Ancestry.com slavery-era ad: The genealogy service pulled a video ad after receiving blowback for romanticizing slavery.
BOYCOTT the Racist company https://t.co/u73z5OlpW7! In this Ad, they are trying to romanticize the rape and murder that white people committed against our Black Ancestors during slavery! They are spitting on the graves of our Black Ancestors! #ADOS #REPARATIONS2020 pic.twitter.com/Hv2ouW4NPA— Dave Jones (@kemba722) April 19, 2019
The ad depicted a white man offering a black woman a ring, asking her to join in in an escape to the North. The two are referred to as “lovers" in the captions.
8. Burger King: In May, the fast-food giant launched Real Meals to spotlight mental health. People criticized Burger King on Twitter for capitalizing on serious health conditions.
9. Knix controversy: The underwear brand known for its "leak-proof underwear" accidentally posted a photo that people felt alluded to sexual violence.
WTF knixwear this is at best a terrible facebook campaign for your underwear while at worst feels like some allusion to sexual violence?! pic.twitter.com/gedMFpTa84— Linds (@lindsfrances) September 5, 2019
The mishap was due to "internal miscommunication," according to its CEO. The photo showed a pair of women's underwear cast aside outside next to a pair of visibly worn suede sandals. Knix pulled the ad, saying that "this particular image was never meant to be shared."
Did we forget to mention any other controversial marketing campaigns from 2019? Let USA TODAY reporter Dalvin Brown know on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Peloton isn't alone: A list of the most-buzzed-about ads of 2019