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Advertising Globalization: Don’t Mess With Mao, Hitler’s Probably Okay


There seems to be more and more ads that are offending not their original country of display, but some other far flung nation. It’s like people forget that the internet is a global tool. Even if you have a very nationalistic surfing pattern, consider that the rest of the world is running around cyberspace at full international tilt.

Consider a recent German safe sex commercial for Doc Morris Pharmacies created by Grey Worldwide Frankfurt. The print ad shows Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong as a sperm cell alongside Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden. Naturally, many Chinese were upset considering the official party line is that Mao was “30% wrong and 70% right.” He’s a hero. For future reference, you don’t mess with Mao. Other companies have been down this road with similar results. Peugeot Citroen had to apologize for using a cross eyed Mao in advert in Spain.

These days, it’s best to consider that your ad is going to seen by everyone. Make a check list even – does it matter if I offend all of Australia by making a joke of Hugh Jackman? Probably not. The billion plus consumers of China? Might want to think that one through.

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