Unilever has not been shy over the years when it has come to marketing its iconic Pot Noodle brand and it has in the past courted controversy over its wacky and risqué advertising.
However, it has not been all plain sailing as its ads have landed the company in hot water with advertising watchdogs on several occasions. In 2002 two poster ads for Pot Noodle’s ‘Slag’ campaign received more than 400 complaints and the Advertising Standards Authority banned one. Unilever also received a reprimand from the Independent Television Commission.
The controversy even prompted a response from outgoing Unilever chairman Niall FitzGerald, who said there was a “very fine line between the slag of all
snacks and being regarded by opinion formers as irresponsible corporate slags”.
Unilever is undaunted by the kerfuffle surrounding its advertising and has continued to throw its Pot Noodle brand down the dirty route with risqué ads, including most recently The Horn, which shows how the craving for a Pot Noodle manifests itself as a large brass horn in the craver’s pocket. The ad allows consumers to win a plastic horn, which it estimates generated a 15% uplift in base sales.
Other ads to have landed the company in trouble include saucy radio commercials featuring couples seductively reading the instructions from the side of the pot.
“We have consulted with the TV and radio regulatory bodies, who have approved the ads for transmission,” says business manager Simon Barnett, adding that Pot Noodle’s advertising has been created to reflect the brand’s “irreverent and fun personality” and to engage with its core 16 to 24-year-old market.