BANNED! The Funniest TV Ads That Were Axed.

They Were Pulled From TV, But You Can See Them Here.

Sex. Drugs. Rock 'n' roll. There can be a number of reasons a TV ad can be banned. Usually, the content can is too overtly sexual, or shows nudity. There can be foul language, or offensive imagery. The ad may be telling blatant lies, or be misleading. The ad could even make people feel sick.

However, sometimes ads are pulled and when you look back at them you’re left scratching your head and wondering “why was THAT one banned?!” Here are ten great banned commercials from around the world that are not only good advertisements; they also help the client get noticed. And getting noticed is the most important thing an ad can do for any client. 


Xbox Life Is Short
Xbox Life Is Short.

Some people loved it. A lot of people hated it. This intense ad for the original Xbox console features a woman giving birth to a baby that is shot across the room, out of the window, and flies through the air. As it does, it gets older, turning from teen, to adult, to senior, before landing with a thud in a grave. The message - life is short, play more. If you think about it, if life is so short, you probably shouldn't spend hours sitting in front of a TV screen playing pointless video games.  More


VW Polo
VW Polo.

Mark this one as "what were they thinking?!" Suicide bombing is hardly a fun subject (although the film Four Lions managed to poke fun at terrorism in a masterful way). However, this one, a 20-second car ad, is just way too insensitive. And although the ending is kind of amusing, someone still dies to sell a car.  More


Durex Hundred Million. Screen grab via YouTube

As always, ads that approach the subject of sex or sexuality come under way more scrutiny than ads containing violence. This one, which uses humor, is a great example of how condom ads can be both memorable and on brand. The giant condom at the end, filled with millions of animated sperm, was obviously too much for the censors. Lighten up please.  More

Agent Provocateur: KYLIE

Kylie - Agent Provocateur.

It's pretty obvious why this spot only made it to cinemas, and not regular TV. It features music sensation Kylie Minogue wearing some see-through lingerie, riding a mechanical bull, and performing some rather NSFW moves. At the end of the ad, she asks all the men in the audience to stand up; a rather scandalous way to prove that this lingerie has the desired effect.  More


Ikea Tidy Up. Screen grab via YouTube

All three commercials from the Ikea “Tidy Up” campaign were initially banned, probably die to a mix of overt sexuality and “I don’t want to explain that one to my kids.” Honestly, these should never have been stopped from airing; they are funny, well executed, and absolutely on point. Anyone who’s ever been to Ikea knows that they are in the business of home organization. Great, memorable advertising.  More

Deutsche Postbank: PHONE CALL

Deutsche Postbank "Phone Call"
Screen Grab Via YouTube

It’s a simple enough scenario. A seemingly wealthy businessman is getting dressed at his local private health club, when he receives a call from his wife. And oh, how she likes to spend money. He gives her the green light on every request; right down to the $1.4 million house she wants. Why was it banned? Perhaps it encouraged people to do something that could lead to a lot of trouble.  More


Levi's Blind Man. Screen grab via YouTube

Ever since the BBH ads of the eighties (remember Laundromat?), Levi’s ads have had an inherent coolness to them. This banned ad from the UK is no exception, although it clearly crossed a line for the TV watchdogs. By today’s standards it’s fairly tame, but back then it was considered too steamy to go on air. However, it has been featured numerous times in those “too hot for TV” ad compilations.  More

Planet Fitness: HOT

Planet Fitness Hot. Screen grab via YouTube

There’s a reason this ad works, and works well. People are scared of going to the gym, and it’s not just the ladies. Men have the same issues with the meatheads who flex in front of the mirror for 45 minutes, and have biceps on their triceps. Sure, the women in this ad are not wearing a whole lot, but it’s a lot more than a Victoria’s Secret ad, and this is actually making a really good point. You have to wonder, why was this one banned at all?


Vim Prison. Screen grab via YouTube

Tense, foreboding music sets the scene. The atmosphere is grim, and clinical. This is not unlike the infamous scene between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham in Manhunter (one which is underrated, and acted superbly by Brian Cox and William Peterson). The orange jumpsuit, the hand on the glass, it’s all leading to a brilliant reveal. Why this Canadian commercial was banned is a bigger puzzle than anything Lecter ever left for Graham or Starling.  More

Yellow Pages: HAIRCUT

Yellow Pages. Screen grab via YouTube

Does anyone use the Yellow Pages, or other phone directories, any more? Well, this is an old ad so it was spot on at the time. You may hear the little girl call the inept barber “uncle James.” That is indeed James Nesbitt, star of The Hobbit, Jekyll, Cold Feet, and a new show coming to Starz called The Missing. This was clearly done before he got his big break. But why was this ad banned? 


Bud Light Pillow. Screen grab via YouTube

There are obvious clues as to why this one was banned. Young girls in a bedroom having a pillow fight. If that’s all it was, it’s pretty weak. But when the tables turn, and Helga unleashes the fury, it becomes funny and unexpected. It’s hard to make an impact in the beer category; this one had teeth.  More

Toyota Rav 4: MURDER

Toyota Rav 4 Murder. Screen grab via YouTube

No actual murdering takes place in the ad, and some would say the cartoon violence takes things a little too far. When you consider what else has been shown on our screens, the clear silliness of what is being portrayed here should not have been any cause for concern. Did they really think anyone watching would mimic what they saw in the ad? Perhaps.  More


Tango Orangeman
Tango Orangeman.

From English agency HHCL came an ad in 1992 that got everyone's attention. Sadly, that included a lot of kids who copied the antics of the Orangeman, smacking the ears of classmates and endangering their hearing. The ad was altered to make it a kiss...kind of. Still, the Tango work remains some of the most inventive ever done to sell a soft drink.  More

Toohey's Beer: BOTTLE OPENER

Toohey's Beer. Screen grab via YouTube

Australia has always been much more liberal when it comes to advertising. So how this one got banned is a mystery, considering it’s a very tame sexual innuendo joke. It would fly over the heads of any kids watching, and the actual reveal is PG. You just have to have a mind that goes to the gutter for a second. It’s memorable.  More


McDonald's Dead Father
McDonald's Dead Father.

A recent addition to the "pulled quickly from the airwaves" files is this horrendous effort from McDonald's in the UK. Not just one person, but a whole slew of people said yes to an ad selling a fish burger by remembering a dead father/husband. The manipulation and tone-deaf quality of the ad caused and it was yanked in a heartbeat. Shame on you all for this horrible piece of work.  More