Controversial Netflix ad draws anger online

Sweet Tooth Netflix poster
(Image credit: Netflix)

Many of our favourite examples of print advertising court controversy, but it's a fine balancing act. Get it wrong, and and ad can fall off the edge (of edginess) and end up looking plain old tasteless. And judging by the reaction online, Netflix's latest ad may have got it wrong.

Today's issue of USA Today carries a front page story declaring that hybrid human/animal babies are being born across the US. Except, it doesn't. The 'story' is actually an ad for Netflix's new show, Sweet Tooth – and while many of the best print ads will make you double-take, this 'fake news' seems to have rubbed many up the wrong way.

USA Today Netflix ad

(Image credit: @jeffers24511815 on Twitter)
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Many can't quite believe that the newspaper sold its entire front page for advertising – and that said advert is designed to closely resemble said front page. As Gizmodo points out, USA Today's advertising guidelines literally dictate that ads "cannot resemble news or front page format of USA Today" – which, er, this one does.

USA Today Netflix ad

The ad in question (Image credit: @jeffers24511815 on Twitter)

To be fair, the ad does say 'advertisement' above the headline. But then, to be fair (again), it's very small – and is the only indication that this isn't an actual newspaper front page. The content of the story is of course pretty ridiculous – but Sweet Tooth, an adaption of Jeff Lemire’s DC Comics series arguably isn't well-known enough for your average reader to make the association.

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But while many are angry, some users have applauded the audacious ad. It's clearly caught plenty of readers' eyes – which is the point, right? 

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Whether you think the ad is genius or irresponsible depends on whether you see it as harmless, inventive fun, or a dangerous misappropriation of the newspaper front page. Either way, it's certainly got people talking – for better or worse. If you're inspired to create an ad of your own, check out today's best Creative Cloud deals below.

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.