Tips for Marketing Controversial Products


Marketing in the digital age can be tough enough, but how do you do it when you’re working with a product or service that’s controversial?

A good example of an area where it’s been done well is vaping. Vaping suppliers and related companies have excelled at marketing to people who ultimately want to stop smoking, and while it’s a relatively new trend and research is still being done, they’ve really created a powerful message for their consumers. The same is true for an online headshop that sells glass pipes by brands like Grav Labs.

People may be on the fence about the concept of vaping, but the marketing techniques have been very effective overall.

The following are some tips and tricks that can help you if you’re marketing something that could seem controversial for whatever reason.

Be Responsible

If you’re marketing something that’s already considered somewhat controversial, it’s best to try and avoid cheap marketing or advertising ploys. In most cases, it’s going to be better to stick to a responsible marketing approach that’s straightforward, and conscious of the fact that there will be some people who are ultimately turned off by what you’re selling.

Some people try to use humor as a way to get past the tension, but this is extremely tough to get right, and it can backfire pretty badly, so if you’re on the fence, it may be best to avoid it.

Also, the more truthful, factual information you can provide in your marketing, the better. This will serve as a way to combat untrue claims naysayers make about you, and it will also create that framework of responsible marketing.

Highlight an Ethical Company Vision

Even if there is some controversy regarding your product or service, you want to portray your company as one that’s ethically driven, honest and transparent.

You can develop a company policy or mission revolving around your values and dedication to ethics, and incorporate this into your overall marketing strategy.


Endorsements can go a long way here. You might partner with a celebrity or even just an online influencer as part of a larger marketing campaign.

Influencers play a big role in how people will perceive your business, so don’t underestimate the important role they could potentially play in helping you overcome the obstacles of marketing products that are seen as controversial.


With these types of products and services compliance is often extremely important. Before you launch any new marketing campaign make sure you’re allotting enough time for a legal team to look it over and ensure you’re completely compliant regarding laws and regulations.

You also need to be extremely careful with your wording generally. Every single word of your marketing needs to be exactly right not just in terms of compliance, but you also want to drive the thoughts of consumers away from the potential negatives of your product and toward the positives.

As a final note, if you’re marketing something that’s controversial, you’re going to need to put in extra legwork to find the right channels to reach your potential customer. You’ll want to look for niche sites and publications that might be a good fit so that you make sure you’re getting not just exposure, but the exposure that will be valuable to your company.  

Author: Susan Melony