This post is part of a series on celebrity spokespeople who ended up doing serious harm to the brands they were hired to promote, or vice versa. See how we rank the 20 top spokesperson fiascos.
Companies wishing to appeal to sensory-overloaded customers sometimes have to swallow hard and sign edgy spokespersons (I'm looking at you, Pepsi). But what could go wrong for UNICEF Belgium, the local arm of the United Nations Children's Fund, in adopting the beloved Smurfs as its spokescreatures?
Plenty, it turns out, when the Fund decided to use the Smurfs to shake people out of their complacency about the plight of the soldier children of Africa. To this end, they created an ad that ran (briefly) on Belgian television, showing the air-bombing and destruction of a smurf village, including the collateral blue damage. The tiny azure baby wailing amidst bomb craters and smurf corpses was an especially compelling touch.
Apparently, when the ad ran on Belgian television during the evening news, it left the audience in smurfy shock. According to a UNICEF Belgium spokesman, controversy was its goal, but the chief reaction to the snufftoon seems to have come from an amazingly large populace of smurf-haters, who have plastered the video across the Internet. The moral? When you adopt a warm fuzzy spokesthingy, injure it at your own peril.