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.
Still can’t quite believe that @USATODAY allowed the real paper to be wrapped in a fake paper about a world where people have grown antlers. (It was an ad for @SweetTooth on Netflix with minimal disclosure.) pic.twitter.com/otlNsr0bUtJune 4, 2021
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 (opens in new tab), USA Today's advertising guidelines literally dictate that ads "cannot resemble news or front page format of USA Today" – which, er, this one does.
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.
Is anyone talking about USA Today selling its front page to Netflix for Sweet Tooth? pic.twitter.com/1DGgdO13HTJune 6, 2021
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?
Well played @SweetTooth making the entire front page of USA Today a realistic front page. Caught my eye! So excited for the show! pic.twitter.com/EjSwqCLrhqJune 4, 2021
Round of applause for whoever came up with this #SweetTooth ad in @USATODAY. pic.twitter.com/wVvrojT0LLJune 4, 2021
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.