Satirical advertisement on the topic of Australia Day, produced by The Juice Media.

A parody advertisement is a fictional advertisement for a non-existent product, either done within another advertisement for an actual product, or done simply as parody of advertisements—used either as a way of ridiculing or drawing negative attention towards a real advertisement or such an advertisement's subject, or as a comedic device, such as in a comedy skit or sketch.


A parody advertisement should not be confused with a fictional brand name used in a program to avoid giving free advertising to an actual product, or to the use of a fictional brand name in an actual advertisement used for comparison, which is sometimes done as opposed to comparing the product to an actual competitor. (In some countries, Germany or Norway for example, it is illegal to make disparaging comments about a competitor's product in an advertisement, even if the statements are proven to be true.[1])

A parody advertisement can be one in which the advertisement appears to actually be a real ad for the false product, but then the advertisement is somehow exposed to be a parody and if it is an actual advertisement the actual brand becomes clear. If it is simply a parody it may or may not indicate that it is one.

Notable examples


During the 1960s and 1970s, the Topps Chewing Gum Company released a product called Wacky Packages, in which stickers showing various products were shown in ridiculous scenes, such as



Fictional advertisements for real products

Magazines and print

Mad Magazine

Mad Magazine was notorious for regularly running obviously fictional ads for nonexistent products. However, many of these nonexistent products were clearly intended to be parodies of specific well-known brands of real-world products; frequently, the fictional advertisement in Mad parodied a specific genuine ad campaign for a recognizable brand-name product. For example, in the 1960s (when cigarettes could still be advertised on television), Kent Cigarettes ran a commercial featuring a series of line drawings illustrating the lyrics of a catchy jingle titled "The Taste of Kent". Mad promptly ran a fake print ad, using drawings which parodied the style of the line art, illustrating verses about lung cancer and emphysema to a lyric that parodied Kent's jingle, now titled "The Taste of Death".

According to Frank Jacobs's biography The Mad World of William M. Gaines, Mad's parodies of real advertisements generated so much attention that Mad publisher William Gaines received requests from the promotional departments of many real products, asking Mad to run parodies of their advertisements. Gaines's standard reply to such requests: "Come up with a really stupid ad campaign, and we'll be happy to make fun of it."


The most serious incident involving a fictional advertisement in a magazine caused a lawsuit which reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, when Hustler Magazine ran a parody of a liquor ad which would ask people about their "first time." In the actual ad, what we are led to believe is that the person is being asked about their first sexual experience, when it turns out the question is about their first time they used the sponsor's product, a liqueur.

In the parody advertisement in Hustler, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, at the time a prominent promoter of social conservatism and opponent of pornography, is supposedly quoted describing the first time he had sexual intercourse with his mother in an outhouse while intoxicated. Falwell sued Hustler Magazine and its publisher Larry Flynt for invasion of privacy, libel and emotional distress. The jury found for the magazine on the issue of libel (the fictional advertisement clearly indicated it was a parody), but awarded Mr. Falwell $350,000 in damages for the emotional distress and invasion of privacy claims. The Supreme Court ruled that, since the advertisement was so obviously a parody that no reasonable person could have believed it, Falwell was not libelled and thus is not entitled to damages for emotional distress, and he was not entitled to damages for invasion of privacy because he is a well-known public figure. Hustler Magazine, Inc. et al. v. Jerry Falwell, 485 U.S. 46, (1988).

Other examples



  1. ^ Germany's "Act against Unfair Competition" or "Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb" (UWG) of 3 July 2004, § 6 generally forbids the use of comparative advertising. Technically it is not "illegal" in that almost all actions under the law are based on private lawsuits, e.g. typically the company whose product is being mentioned sues, rather than the government prosecuting.
  2. ^ Booty Sweat Energy Drink
  3. ^ Booty Sweat Energy Drink[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ .com/x-281-Caffeine-Examiner~y2008m8d22-Tropic-Thunder-energy-drink-turns-real--and-doesnt-really-taste-like-Booty-Sweat Tropic Thunder energy drink turns real - and doesnt really taste like Booty Sweat[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Trivia for Inside Man
  6. ^ RoboCop - A Few Words From the Future Archived 2011-06-16 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Tanz, Jason (2011), Other People's Property: A Shadow History of Hip-Hop in White America, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, pp. 179–180, ISBN 978-1608196531
  8. ^ Solman, Gregory (March 31, 2005), "Publicis' Teen Gang Mugs for T-Mobile", Adweek  – via Gale General OneFile (subscription required)
  9. ^ Light, Claire (June 27, 2005), "The "T" in "T-Mobile is for WTF?", Hyphen
  10. ^ McCarter, Reid. "American Girl calls manager over "Karen" doll parody". News. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  11. ^ Beschizza, Rob (6 July 2020). "I found out about this amusing Karen parody of American Girl dolls because they want it taken down". Boing Boing.
  12. ^ "Da finto spot dello Zoo di 105 a vera azienda: storia degli orologi Fumagazzi". Wired Italia (in Italian). 2019-12-12. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  13. ^ "Orologi Fumagazzi - Welcome on S&G Magazine Official". Silver and Gold Magazine (in Italian). 2019-12-28. Retrieved 2021-11-25.