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The Best and Worst Digital Ad Campaign: Greenpeace and Dolce & Gabbana

Digital advertising is a powerful tool for digital marketers today, as they allow digital marketers to market to their consumers more precisely, efficiently, creatively, powerfully and cheaply than ever before. While some digital advertising campaigns have succeeded brilliantly, others have failed miserably. This essay will discuss the Greenpeace digital advertising campaign against LEGO’s partnership with Shell as an example of the best digital advertising practices, and the Dolce and Gabbana Chinese digital advertising campaign as an example of the worst advertising practices. This essay will discuss these two digital ad campaigns with regard to their audience, style and message.

Foremost, the Dolce and Gabbana digital ad campaign is the worst digital ad campaign ever created because it fails to take its audience into account, it has a poor visual style, and it conveys the wrong message. Foremost, as a luxury brand catered to the Chinese market, the Dolce and Gabbana digital ad should not have showcased a Chinese model struggling to eat spaghetti and pizza with chopsticks. Such an ad deeply offended the Chinese consumers, who saw the ad as racist and highly offensive. Secondly, Dolce and Gabbana used a visual style that was gaudy, old-fashioned and traditional, which made the Chinese seem otherworldly and alien. This also alienated Chinese consumers, many of whom identified as hip and trendy consumers. Finally, the message of the advertisement, which sought to portray the appeal of D&G products to Chinese consumers, instead came across as an attempt to civilize and culture the ‘barbaric’ Chinese people. Despite apologies and damage control by D&G, Chinese online retailers quickly dropped D&G from the webstores, and the brand came under heavy fire from Chinese netizens online. This digital ad shows a campaign that got the audience, style and message completely wrong, because of cultural insensitivities, and is therefore a terrible digital ad.

On the other hand, the Greenpeace digital advertising campaign against LEGO’s partnership with Shell is the best digital ad campaign ever because it took its audience, style and message into account. Featuring a beautiful Lego world flooded by Shell-mined oil, and set to a slow ballad version of the Lego movie theme song, the ad campaign quickly garnered 7 million views across social media channels and eventually forced Lego to withdraw from its partnership with Shell. The digital ad campaign succeeded because foremost, it appealed to its audience of digitally aware, socially conscious young millenials who were nostalgic about Lego and hostile toward large corporations such as Shell. Secondly, it succeeded because the visual style of the ad, with the Lego world being flooded by oil, was horrifying, powerful and striking, and delivered a deep visual impact to the audience. Finally, the message was delivered clearly to the audience, in that Lego’s partnership with Shell was contributing to the destruction of the world that it seeks to immortalize through its beloved plastic toy products. As a result, this ad campaign succeeded in its goal, and was powerful enough to be lauded as the best digital ad campaign in years by marketing agencies.


Hund, W. D., & Pickering, M. (2013). Colonial advertising & commodity racism (Vol. 4). LIT Verlag Münster.

Schulz, M. (2016). An Analysis of LEGO’s Response to an Attack on its Partnership with Royal Dutch Shell. Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications7(1).

Silva, E. S., Hassani, H., Madsen, D. Ø., & Gee, L. (2019). Googling Fashion: Forecasting Fashion Consumer Behaviour Using Google Trends. Social Sciences8(4), 111.


Digital Ad of Greenpeace campaign against LEGO’s partnership with SHELL

Figure 1: Digital Ad of Greenpeace campaign against LEGO’s part

Dolce and Gabbana Digital Ad in China

Figure 2: Dolce and Gabbana Digital Ad in China


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