Disclaimer: Please refrain from reading this post if you’re easily offended or have no sense of humour whatsoever.
I put a swear in a brand story recently. It’s a pretty soft swear, as swears go, but it went in there and the client was thrilled. I was always told it’s not polite to swear and I work with kids regularly in my non-marketing time, so I'm always telling them to watch their mouths. But sometimes, every once and awhile, a swear is all that will do - like when you’re trying to fix something, swearing always helps make it work again.
I like cuss words. I use them often. And so do you.
A few years ago, while with a previous marketing firm, I worked on a campaign with a swear in it and wrote about how swear words can get some real attention, unfortunately the swear campaign didn’t roll out as it was intended (as it happens from time to time), but I’m still convinced it would have been incredibly effective.
So here are the best swear word campaigns I’ve ever seen. If I’ve missed any really good ones send them along!
Jiggly Jingle, Indeed
In 2013, Jello and Kraft Foods decided to turn one popular hashtag mean something different. In the campaign they used #FML and asked people to use it in terms of Fun My Life, rather than that other thing. They gave away prize packs to people who used the hashtag and they killed it, grabbing plenty of attention and making a family-friendly campaign.
All Kinds of Dirty
When CLR launched this campaign it had me in stitches. It uses a clean/dirty pun perfectly and allowed the actors to really go for it. Of course the words were bleeped out, but it’s super effective.
This ad campaign is a few years old, but it still kills me every. single. time. It made so much sense that something that should make us so angry was talked about with curse words. Having them come out of the mouths of babes was a great way to add shock value and make people REALLY pay attention to something that matters.
Go Fork Yourself
Thug Kitchen is a cookbook that cracks me up with it’s tagline “Eat like you give a fuck.” This cookbook is “verbally abusing you into a healthier diet,” and is chock o’block full of delicious healthy recipes and tons of swear words.
The pair of authors also host a podcast called Forked Up if you’re into that kind of thing.
Finger Lickin’ Good
In 2018, there was a … chicken crisis, where KFC restaurants closed due to lack of poultry. Well Ad Agency Mother London stepped in and created these full-page apology ads that have since been named one of the best apology ads ever and was praised as an example of excellent crisis management.
Should you Swear?
Technically, these are just words and when used properly they can be really effective, but it’s really up to your brand’s personality and whether it fits with what you do. If you want to swear from the rooftops, we’d love to hear about it!