• 05.13.14

The Least Creative Thing Of The Day: This Ad Uses Malala Yousafzai To Sell Mattresses

Because fighting for, and almost losing her life over, education and human rights have nothing to do with your good night’s sleep.

The Least Creative Thing Of The Day: This Ad Uses Malala Yousafzai To Sell Mattresses

Marketers are known for using a fair bit of hyperbole. New and improved. The greatest, the fastest, the tastiest, the prettiest, and on and on. But there are levels of exaggeration that even advertising shouldn’t stoop to.


Enter Ogilvy India and this print ad for Kurl-On mattresses. The idea here is about as subtle as a (ahem) bullet to the head. These mattresses will give you such an amazing, restful sleep that you can bounce back from any tough day recharged and refreshed. Using Steve Jobs exit from Apple and subsequent triumphant return? Cheesy, a bit obvious, but okay, we get it. Gandhi? Yeah, definitely strolling into wild overemphasis territory here. But Malala Yousafzai?

Here’s the thing, unless you’re selling a product or service that helps the causes Ms. Yousafzai supports and campaigns around, you shouldn’t be using her as part of your pitch. In fact, unless she actively endorses whatever you’re advertising, you should probably steer clear. But to invoke her ordeal and subsequent work with something as pedestrian as a mattress not only lacks creativity but also any semblance of taste. It’d be like a bus service using Rosa Parks in its ads. Or using Gandhi. Oh wait.

Ogilvy has issued a statement regarding the ads.

“The recent Kurl-On Mattress ads from our India office are contrary to the beliefs and professional standards of Ogilvy & Mather and our clients. We deeply regret this incident and want to apologize to Malala Yousafzai and her family. We are investigating how our standards were compromised in this case and will take whatever corrective action is necessary. In addition, we have launched a thorough review of our approval and oversight processes across our global network to help ensure that our standards are never compromised again.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.