The 15 Most Offensive Dead Celebrity Ads

1. Kiss FM (August 2013)

One execution of a brand new campaign for a Brazilian rock station.
Brazil is the worldwide leader in tasteless dead celeb ads.
If I could — seriously — think of the absolutely WORST layout to put John Lennon in, it would be an Uncle Sam armed forces recruitment poster.
And, lo, there it is.
Ad agency: Lua Propaganda, Sao Paulo.

2. Fit Light Yogurt (2007)

Via Brazil.
The Marilyn Monroe skirt scene from the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch has been lazily riffed on countless of times by ad agencies.
Translation: “Forget about it. Men’s preference will never change. Fit Light Yogurt.”
Pretty damn offensive.

3. Ford Puma (1998)

I guess Ford (and ad agency Y&R, UK) thought that since Steve McQueen drove a Ford (a Mustang GT) in his famous chase scene from the 1968 film Bullit, it would be fine to — badly — recreate it with a Fucking Puma.
Just, embarrassingly bad.

4. el Mostrador (2012)

Amy Winehouse rises from her grave almost a year to the day after she died of alcohol intoxication to bury Kate and Wills alive.
Tasteless, and more importantly, senseless.
The ad “News Changes Fast” is for a Chilean newspaper.

5. Alacatel (2001)

Video available at:

The giant French telecommunications company won A Cannes Lion for this Martin Luther King Jr. commercial.
Not that you’d know that, because they’ve tried their best to keep it offline since video came fully online.
They learned the hard way that there are certain historical stars that you do not touch to try to sell stuff.

6. Rádio Ipanema (July 2013)

Ad from last month for a Brazilian rock radio station.
If you’re wondering why Richard Burton (look him up, kids) is in a rock music ad, that’s supposed to be a 78 year-old Elvis.

7. Lee Jeans (2010)

Unlike the U.S., Japan (and the UK) offers no protection to celebs being used in ads, postmortem.
James Dean is HUGE in the Land of the Rising Sun. He sells everything there.
But usually, it’s just a head shot.
Lee took it a step further. A BIG overstep.

8. Record Planet (2011)

Translation: “Discover just how great your old heroes still sound.”
Record Planet is a huge annual record and CD fair in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
John Denver went to his Rockey Mountain High in 1997.

9. Dr. Martens (2007)

These badly Photoshopped ads via the UK got the ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi London, fired. Dr. Martens CEO Dave Suddens apparently approved them to run once in Fact Magazine.
But the whole campaign never got rolled out after the public cried out very loudly when it saw the above Kurt Cobain layout.
Because the UK has no laws prohibiting the use of celebs in ads, postmortem, Courtney Love had no legal recourse to sue Dr. Martens.
Second Sid Vicious ad below.
Two other ads featured Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone.

10. Dr. Martens (2007)

11. Orville Redenbacher popcorn (2007)

OK, a stretch to call him a celeb, but I’m calling it.
This embarrassing commercial debuted during the Golden Globes telecast in January 2007.
Redenbacher, who suffered a heart attack and drowned in his tub in 1995 (now his products have zero trans fat), was Frankensteined with parts of three actors—one each for voice, body and face—to create an historically creepy digital Deadenbacher.
Redenbacher made his first fortune selling fertilizer, btw.
Ad agency: cp+b.

12. LG Car Audio hands-free bluetooth (July 2013)

There have been a ton of bad Michael Jackson ads since his death.
But this one, from just last month, is the worst. Creepy as Fuck.
Via, yep, Brazil.

13. Sony earphones (2012)

Here’s your runner-up (so far) dead Michael Jackson ad, via South Korea.

14. Dirt Devil (1997)

The Ohio-based company waited 10 years to awkwardly digitally-reanimate the corpse of Fred Astaire.
The spot debuted during the 1997 Super Bowl.

15. Clara Internet (May 2013)

That famous Einstein “tongue” photo has been used, literally, thousands and thousands of times in advertising.
This is the most tasteless (at least by a major company) I’ve seen.
Kill him again, why don’t ya.
It is pretty funny, though.
Via Chile.

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