5 Examples of Negative Advertising

5 Examples of Negative Advertising

In this article, I want to show to you 5 examples of negative advertising, and how effective it can be.

Everyone these days associates negative advertising with political campaigning, but this is not the only form of negative advertising that captures attention.


Product advertising is an area where negative advertising is highly prevalent and very effective.

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Walking in Chelsea NYC

One Night Walking in Chelsea

My colleagues within the internet community know me as a person of a positive mindset, and how much I always enjoy empowering others with good vibes and positive inspiration.

Yet while I was walking in my Chelsea NYC neighborhood last night on a quiet side street, I could not help being attracted to a vintage pop-up store I’d never seen before.

Immediately recognized how they were using the power of negative advertising to their profitable advantage.

Negative advertising has been used over many decades, and as much as I’d hate to admit it, it has been proven to work.

It is an immediate attention-grabber that draws curiosity. Once that curiosity is drawn and the shopper gets “hooked in”, and if the products are also good, vintage, and original, or high-quality and utilitarian, the customer or viewer will gain a customer or a follower.

What is negative advertising?

What is Negative Advertising?

Negative advertising aims to assault, criticize, and attack a competitor’s products, brands, or services. The perpetrator of the negative advertisement will often emphasize how the competitor’s products, brand, or services is significantly weaker than those of the attacker.

At its very core, negative advertising is designed to draw the audience's attention to the attacker opponent's weaknesses through an aggressive, one-sided assault. Its primary goal is to focus on exposing a competitors' failings.

By contrast, positive advertising outlines and accentuates the attacking party's attributes and strengths.

Although negative advertising can be a highly successful tactic for drawing attention to a product or brand and reacting to competitors, case studies have shown it will often produce only a temporary uptick in market share.

Negative advertising is often related to a brand

Later in this article, I will expose a very specific type of technique I have noticed that companies use to attract immediate attention to their products, brands and services.  This is where I will demonstrate the 5 examples of negative advertising.  

First, I asked several members from my wonderful worldwide internet community how they felt about the power of negative advertising. There responses were somewhat surprising.

Allow me share with you their strong opinions.

How do people feel about negative advertising?

How Do People Feel About Negative Advertising?

Here are the responses about the power of negative advertising from members of my worldwide internet community:

Whenever I am considering buying a product or service online, I always google the product followed by the word scam. I did it with (latest product/service) and landed on an article about "Is (Latest Product/Service) a Scam?" I ended up following this smart man’s link here and I have used this service for a few years. He continues to make a yearly commission off of me. It works! - Anonymous

Hi.....I don't like it but it is effective. Negative emotions are also motivating....fear for example. Fear of Poverty pushes us forward. However, I think it creates more stress than is necessary. - Anonymous


I'm not a fan of negative advertising, any more than I am a fan of those people who create 1 mile traffic jams so they can look at the accident on the side of the road. But as you said, people are curious and anything outside of the ordinary gets attention. - Anonymous

Negative advertising is an interesting concept directly addressing people's curiosity and their desire to experience something out of the ordinary. It can be quite tasteless but apparently quite profitable.
I wouldn't ban or censor it as I think the consumer should have the right to decide what to go for. It's a bit like bad food - whilst you shouldn't really consume it, it should be your decision whether to have it or not. - Anonymous

Negative advertising can be a morbid curiosity

Within 24 hours, Smith lost his job as CFO of a company and hasn't found a job since! It's human nature, curiosity, or sometimes morbid curiosity! People can't help but be intrigued, by things out of the norm. Add some humour and you've got a winner. - Anonymous

I think negative advertising can work - given the right TPO (time, place, & opportunity).
And, you better be good at anticipating when it will work and when it won't work.
Because, if it won't work, the backlash may destroy your website.

The internet is full of "whoopsies" that folks thought were great when they did or said them - but, they didn't anticipate how disastrous the negative reaction could be until they experienced it firsthand.
Case in point - Adam Smith and Chick-fil-A...back in 2012. Do a search on YouTube and you will see what I mean.

Absolutely, yes! It is an attention grabber, as you say.
It’s funny but whenever you tell people NOT to buy something or ban it completely, everybody wants it!
Fun idea to post! Thanks! – Anonymous

I'm thinking that negative advertising can be used as an attention getter i.e. "dead people things" that spark curiosity. But when it downgrades a person or thing it has a knack of backfiring; as in political ads. – Anonymous

5 examples of negative advertising, where it is reverse psychology advertising

5 Examples of Negative Advertising: Reverse Psychology Negative Advertising

Here’s another form of negative advertising that I see companies deploy to attract quick attention to their quirky products, brands, and services.

It is where the company leverages reverse psychology within their products as negative advertising. So here are the 5 examples of negative advertising I will be focusing for the rest of this article.

5 examples of negative advertising, Example 1

Example 1:  Check out the above street signage of this first image employing the reverse psychology slogan “Sorry We’re Open” to draw the immediate attention to the pop-up store.

Note that this “temporary” pop-store was indeed getting good business!

Check out the interest for vintage clothing and “oddities” at 7:00 pm last night inside the opo-up store. Pretty strong for a weeknight.

Here are some other images of reverse psychology “negative’ advertising":

Example 2

Example 2: This same reverse psychology concept also carries over to negative blogs, as they attract people simply by curiosity, and unfortunately in some cases, morbid curiosity and ill-will.

Except in the blogging world, these posts are sometimes will be taken down or censored. And rightfully so.

Here are some additional examples of reverse psychology negative advertising that have worked well in retail, the food and service industry, and of course in political campaigns,

These reverse psychology campaigns worked so well, later you will see that even a former U.S. president admitted to this fact:

Example 3

Example 3: Here is a reverse psychology billboard ad by McDonald’s telling you NOT to waste your money on their espresso, as spending $4 is simply DUMB!.

Example 4

Example 4: Here is one NOT for animal lovers, however the “human element” of this narrative may be equally true and effective.

Example 5

Example 5: Here is a political ad that is just a plain shameless attention-grabber!

In closing, here is what former U.S. President Jimmy Carter once said -

Former US President concedes that negative advertising works

How do YOU feel about negative advertising?

Does it truly has its place?

Should such negative advertising be banned or severely censored?

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I would love to hear your thoughts on this "curious" topic of the 5 examples of negative advertising my friends.

Please leave your comments below.

About the Author

KAJU is the band leader and founding member of OFF THE HOOK, one of the premiere dance party bands in the New York Tri-State Area. After contracting a mysterious hand disorder, Kaju now writes to help other musicians and artists deal with disabilities. Currently he is a Full-time Affiliate Marketer and 1-on-1 mentor at Wealthy Affiliate, a community that can help anyone start an online business without prior experience. This is where he teaches others how to make a great passive income. Read more about his story here!