Media: The ones that got away

Every advertising creative knows the story. The most obscene, sick, unusable and completely brilliant ideas just pop into your head when you're working on a campaign. The client won't want them. But what can you do with them?
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The Advertising Graveyard is the idea of advertising creative and Web page designer Jeffrey Zeldman. It is found on his own personal website at, a personal website that is of a rather higher quality than those which usually feature pictures of people's pets and the lyrics to Led Zeppelin II.

The Advertising Graveyard grew from his own experience in advertising. Everyone in advertising knows that, during the creation of every campaign, completely obscene, sick and unusable ideas pop into the copywriter and art director's heads.

Some of them even get as far as being shown to a client. The Advertising Graveyard, which was made famous in the US by CNN and has been profiled in a number of glossy magazines, allows creatives who are proud of work which never appeared to at last get an audience. Mr Zeldman encourages agencies to convert their banned work into electronic files and e-mail them to him with details of the banning.

The Zeldman site also provides tips and advice for other web designers, as well as giving away free software and running the Web Standards Project, a campaign to unify the systems browsers use to read web pages so that pages can be read by everyone. His pages are in the best traditions of the early days of the Internet, free, anarchic and non-commercial.


This was an advert created by Jeffrey Zeldman himself and the one used to found the site. It was made to promote the ABC network's airing of the Beatles Anthology series, which was aired here on ITV. It was made for the agency Grey Entertainment and was rejected by the client on the grounds of bad taste.


This was created in 1995 for a new trendy micro-brewery in Hoboken, New Jersey. Despite the fact that the pay-off line insults Germans and makes a joke of the Second World War, that was not why the advert never appeared. The reason was that the owners of the bar never managed to open it.


This advert was created in 1999 by Young & Rubicam Europe to sell a new mobile phone with a special vibrating feature. The agency must have assumed that being Scandinavian, the client would be broad-minded. It was supposed to appear on roadside posters and the client decided it would cause too much offence.


This jolly little ad was created for the German National Undertakers' Association and the headline translates as: "Drive fast and we'll see you soon." In fact, as the smaller print was supposed to make clear, this was a car safety advert. Unfortunately, the client seemed to think that from a distance it would look like they were trying to drum up business.


Publicis made this for a suburban New York state television channel. The creative director said that he got a laugh from the client when he showed it to him, but the Columbine high school shootings scared him off using it. The agency said it wanted it to run because it would annoy Rudolph Guiliani, mayor of New York City.


This advert for the Spokane Symphony Orchestra was intended to run in a magazine which was aimed at children. Nevertheless, the client's marketing man loved the advert and wanted it to run. Unfortunately, the more sober-minded directors of the symphony's board decided the advert "promoted violence" and pulled it.