Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
As the saying goes, there's "no such thing as bad publicity". The reasoning is that even if people are trying to raise a big stink about how some work is immoral, incorrect, offensive, or corrupting the youth of the world, they're just giving it attention, increasing how well-known it is, arousing people's natural curiosity as to why this so offensive, and making the work into Forbidden Fruit.
In real life, there is such a thing as bad publicity: For example, if it turns out a car model or another product has a flaw that endangers the lives of everyone who uses them, and this is highly publicized, the amount of people buying it is going to steeply drop. A little Never Live It Down can devastate anyone's life forever. This trope refers to a something that gains popularity because Moral Guardians draw attention to it. Strangely, the Moral Guardiansnever seem to learn from the fact that they're doing a good job of making their objects of hate more popular, thus, free advertising.
Also, on the Internet, it is usually those (usually bad) aspects of a product which the producer can never live down that undergo discussion and Memetic Mutation, and thus extra advertising.
Whether or not the author of the work purposely made it controversial in order to invoke this phenomenon varies. A work is Rated M for Money when this is done intentionally. However, this can backfire if relied on too much. While the Moral Guardians are a great way to bring attention to a work, it still has to be genuinely good. If it isn't, then controversy or no controversy, critics are still going to pan it, and the people who spend money on it are going to let others know that it's not worth it. Books, DVDs, or video games can still be returned, ticket refunds can still be given partway through a movie or show, radios can still be turned off, etc.
The creator and works also tend to suffer from Seinfeld Is Unfunny. No matter how shocking the creator or works are at first, eventually time will wear away at the shock value, and it just becomes routine and expected. Even Moral Guardians will eventually get bored attacking the same thing over and over. "Oh, look, [insert creator here] has released another extremely offensive and totally controversial [''insert media type here]. How shocking."
This trope isn't just limited to Moral Guardians. Hatedoms have had this happen. As mentioned with the Control Alt Delete theorem later on the page, because people can be soFoe Yay about works they claim to hate, people often find out about it from the Hate Dom or Hate Dumb and either experience Critical Backlash or even if they don't like it...still gave it sales or views. Similar to how people find out about something from the Fandom or Fan Dumb.
Compare Attention Whore, Controversy-Proof Image, Forbidden Fruit, Rated M for Money, Sex Sells, Overshadowed By Controversy. Content Warnings can be both a cause and effect of this. For when this happens but without the Moral Guardians, see Streisand Effect. See Bile Fascination for when the same thing happens due to rumors of the bad quality of a work. When there is an ostensible moral against something that looks appealing anyway, then it's Do Not Do This Cool Thing. When you have someone that thrives off this trope and act like they are better because of it, you got Small Name, Big Ego.
A form of Insult Backfire. In some cases, it may also be a Sleeper Hit.
Wikipedia has an article on this philosophy, going by the French phrase succés de scandale (success from scandal).
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
Although it was nearly cancelled for it, the Pokémon anime first gained popularity internationally after the infamous seizure-inducing episode, "Computer Soldier Porygon". There were a lot of downsides though. The Japanese studio had to hack up any sequence of Pikachu's electricity from previous episodes, which was sold for the international release, thus making a lot of the action sequences get extremely choppy. The studio toned down the special effects from that point forward and banned the episode, as well as effectively banning Porygon from ever appearing again (despite the whole incident technically being the fault of Ash's Pikachu...). Several American TV affiliates also refused to carry the show initially, though they quickly reversed their position when it took off. So while it got a lot of free press, the show still suffered for the backlash early on.
Wedding Peach Abridged actively cultivates this; in order to generate interest from people who haven't seen Wedding Peach, their promos specifically point out the amount of hate that the show has gotten from the media and fans of other series.
How many people would have known about some franchises (Anime and non-anime) were it not for the fact that they were dubbed by 4Kids? Perhaps the most famous example is One Piece.
Although One Piece is more of a subversion. Plenty of people in the U.S. and Latin America (less so in Europe, since it was broadcasted there before 4Kids got the rights for the American continent) have heard of the series due to its macekre-ing by 4Kids, but significantly fewer have actually watched/read it, leading to a strange situation in which One Piece is staggeringly popular in Japan, moreso than Naruto and Bleachcombined, but in the American continent, the reverse is true. This is probably because the One Piece dub's particular brand of badness wasn't very interesting — rather than being scandalous or obscene like most of the examples on this list, it did the exact opposite and censored out everything remotely controversial.
Elfen Lied's notorious R-Rated Opening was one of the many reasons why it got a lot of attention. It even was unable to air in major markets due to many other reasons, and it only has one commercial. It does not mean that it was unable to sell and be adored by fans despite being partially fueled by this.
Kodomo no Jikan might not have gotten so much media attention if Seven Seas Entertainment had not publicly announced that it would cease distributing it in the USA because of its questionable lolicon content.
A promo for Magical Suite Prism Nana was yanked from Youtube for a "nudity or sexual content" violation (even though it was just girls prancing around in bikinis). Not surprisingly, this became a popular topic and the video showed up on other sites almost immediately.
Comedian Jasper Carrott's single Funky Moped became an unlikely chart success when the BBC banned its very rude Magic Roundabout themed B-Side, though it had been something of a sleeper hit already; Carrott claims in his memoirs that it was some weeks before anyone at Broadcasting House actually thought to listen to the B-Side.
Andy Kaufman deliberately worked to shock and surprise people with his work and, especially when he started wrestling women, a lot of bad publicity resulted — which he minded far less than those around him did, since it proved he evoked the honest reactions from his audiences that he wanted. It added up over time and ultimately his mainstream success beyond Taxi proved fleeting, since most people came to see him as a lunatic.
There's a good chance that he would have made a comeback if he had lived longer. It should be noted, though, that Andy Dick has pursued a similar strategy, and has also suffered from bad publicity overdose.
By now you surely already know that Charlie Sheen got booed during his first presentation of his comedy show. How did you found out Charlie Sheen had a comedy show?
The Far Side was a little-known comic strip when the now-legendary Cow Tools cartoon was published early in its run, sparking a frenzy of debate and discussion as to what "Cow Tools" really meant. Cartoonist Gary Larson was mortified by the response, and was forced to write a press release explaining the cartoon, but the attention attracted by "Cow Tools" actually increased interest in The Far Side and probably boosted Larson's circulation. As quoted in The Prehistory of the Far Side:
"So, in summary, I drew a really weird, obtuse cartoon that no one understood and wasn't funny and therefore I went on to even greater success and recognition. Yeah — I like this country."
In Preacher, Arseface's manager puts out increasingly offensive statements that he attributes to Arseface in order to get Arseface's single higher in the charts, leading to angry protests and demands to "Ban The Arse" while pushing up sales further and further. Eventually, he bugs out with all the money, leaving Arseface penniless.
In recent years, comic book writers and editors have taken to deliberately antagonizing readers in an attempt to invoke this trope. The most notable example is Joe Quesada, who has publicly stated that he has fun rubbing One More Day in the readers' faces.
DC's Ian Sattlet on the universal reaction to Lian Harper's death in Justice League: Cry for Justice: "I'm happy it upset people because it means that the story had some weight and emotion."
King Features fired Bobby London as the artist on the Popeye comic strip (which were reprinted in paperback as "Mondo Popeye") after they rejected a storyline in which Olive tries to return a Cabbage Patch Bluto, equating it as a metaphor on abortion.
Invoked by a Corrupt Corporate Executive in The Punisher MAX; he uses the exact line on learning there's a bunch of journalists waiting outside the building to talk to him (unaware that his entire strategy, which involved falsifying accounts and sending Barracuda in anyone who figured him out to monopolize the energy market, had been leaked to them). Cut to him running back inside frantically calling for security to get them out as they continue to bombard him with Armor-Piercing Question after Armor-Piercing Question.
A series of commercials for outpost.com seem to have been designed on this principle. If nothing else, they were certainly memorable!
Priceline had a series of ads featuring William Shatner talking about how he used the service, until it was revealed that he never actually had. He's still their spokesperson today, as a hammy 70s-movie-style character called "The Negotiator".
A 2010 Dominoes Pizza campaign has the company admitting their pizza tasted like cardboard so they changed the formula of the sauce and crust.
The Passion of the Christ was a huge hit for three reasons. 1. It was promoted by conservative churches and their youth groups. Many of them even bought large lots of tickets and sent busloads of the faithful to theaters. 2. The media couldn't shut up over the controversy of the film's ultra-violence. 3. The additional boost of publicity given after a number of Mel Gibson's anti-semitic rants. And 4. The trope being invoked in France. Mel Gibson persuaded local newspapers to print an article about how the film was "too hot for France!" despite the fact that French cinemas had been very interested in carrying the film since its announcement.
Which later resulted in the Catholic Church in Mexico wising up on this, and when other films (and even political parties) attempted to exploit their own controversy, they refused to comment on them.
The Last Temptation of Christ was destined to be an obscure arthouse/independent film, until word got out that there was a sex scene involving Jesus and Mary Magdalene (though it was clear that, given the plot of the film, this was All Just a Dream AND the same leaks pointed out that Jesus and Mary were married in the dream). The Religious Right went nuts with protests, generating the kind of publicity Last Temptation's producers could never have otherwise afforded, turning it into a modest hit and a cult classic.
This got parodied in an episode of Father Ted, where Ted and Dougal get ordered to protest against a banned film, "The Passion of St. Tibulus", that, through a loophole, is being shown on Craggy Island. Their (pathetic) protest generates so much publicity that by the end, it's the most popular film in the cinema's history and people are even coming from abroad specifically to see it.
In France, some fanatics BURNED DOWN a theater. Thirteen people were wounded, and a lot of French extremely shocked.
Similarly, fanatics burned copies of the book on which the movie is based outside theaters in Greece. This, of course, required them to purchase a copy.
However, Martin Scorsese pointed out that a lot of the people who protested against the film did not see the film or pay to see it, the result being that it was a box-office flop even on the low budget it was made. More people made money denouncing the film on Talk Show and radio programs than the producers and director did for their own work and effort.
Showgirls is about as well known for the scandal surrounding its NC-17 rating as it is for being a critical and box-office disaster. In a slight inversion of this trope, no major studio has attempted a mass release of an NC-17 film since its epic flop, and its taken numerous DVD releases for the film to show a profit, regardless of the cult success.
After The Dark Knight wrapped up filming, Heath Ledger, who was cast as antagonist The Joker, tragically died from an accidental toxic combination of prescription medications. This ended up causing a surge of additional popularity for the then-upcoming film and, along with an exceptional performance, ultimately led to him receiving a posthumous Oscar for a role that might have otherwise been consigned to the Sci Fi Ghetto.
Parodied in Matinee, when SF B-movie producer Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman) hires two guys to pose as Moral Guardians and picket the opening of his new film.
The Da Vinci Code, as with the book below, had tons of this. People actually protested outside theaters, even though the Vatican themselves never officially commented on it. The movie made out well. Then came Angels & Demons, the prequel. The Vatican had learned their lesson, and beyond quietly refusing the film makers any access to their sites, kept a tighter leash on the priests who did complain the first time. It still went on to make well over its production budget, but nowhere near the scale as the first with the controversy.
Averted with The Golden Compass. As with The Da Vinci Code above, the movie attracted a large amount of controversy in the US before it's released due its perceived anti-Christian themes. Yet come release day the film ended up doing poorly (at least in the U.S.).
Fahrenheit 9/11, anyone?
Michael Moore even begged the protestors to keep doing it on The Daily Show.
In Sicko, the owner of a anti-Moore-movie site had to shut the site down to deal with payments for his wife's illness; so, naturally, Moore invoked this trope by giving the site owner a huge pile of money so that he could afford to reopen the website and continue providing inadvertent publicity. The additional publicity of Moore giving money to someone who became broke because of health-related costs while protesting a film that protests health care costs turned the ironyUp to Eleven.
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." The backlash against that line from the Legion of Decency and other religious groups is probably what helped to make Gone with the Wind, after inflation, the highest-grossing film ever made to this day.
The 74 films on the Video Nasties list. Nobody save Quentin Tarantino would know these obscure, ultra-low-budget independent Italian and American grindhouse horror films existed were it not for Mary Whitehouse's (totally false) allegations that these were despicable, immoral, Gorn-tastic shlockfests responsible for the corruption of Britain's children and the BBFC's subsequent banning of them.
Averted, in part, with Brokeback Mountain — at one point the studio actually complained that Christian groups weren't protesting the film.
At some point, some people started going to see Avatar just to see the "overrated" film people kept complaining about.
Caligula would have come and gone in two weeks had it been left to succeed or fail on its nonexistent merits. It became successful, and something of a cult classic, solely because of the protests that it sparked.
Invoked by Mark Cuban over the controversy surrounding his film Redacted. Lots of political pundits were mighty pissed about the movie's alleged Demonization of U.S. Marines, to which Cuban — who produced the movie — responded by sarcastically thanking them for all the free publicity. However, Redactedbarely made six digits at the box office.
Had it not been for his antics (criticising other directors such as Michael Bay and Eli Roth as being "Retards" and boxing matches) making himself one of the most hated people in the history of film, director Uwe Boll probably would have been forgotten by the end of the year had people not had such a Bile Fascination with his movies.
A pair of news stories involving Drive — one involving a moviegoer suing the studio for false advertising and another about a golf spectator being inspired by the film to throw a hot dog at Tiger Woods — helped the film, which was starting to drop theatres heavily, stick around for longer in some markets. A few markets even brought the film back and had stronger results than its first run due to the publicity.
Michael Bay is one of the most hated people on the Internet, even on this very wiki people had to prevent pages for his movies from being excessively vandalized and slandered. No matter where you go, you'll look on Twitter and find millions of people lamenting at how some movie he directed actually making money - and yet they make more money than movies people hype as being "good".
The anti-Confederate and pro-revenge themes of Django Unchained were bound to cause controversy in certain parts of the United States (along with the film's graphic violence) but it hasn't stopped the film from being a critical and financial success.
The surprisingly strong opening weekend of Fruitvale Station was largely chalked up to the similarities between the film and the high profile George Zimmerman trial that was going on at the time.
Khalnayak was a controversial movie with India's Moral Guardians, specifically because of The Item Number. The title of the song translates as "What's Behind the Blouse?" and the lyrics are a little cheeky. Although the answer to the question posed in the song title isn't nearly as perverted as one would think! Because of that controversy (and the prospect of seeing Madhuri Dixit dance), more people went to the theaters to see it.
Darren Aronofsky's Noah got a lot of backlash from fundamentalist Christian groups before and after the movie was released due to story being deviated from The Bible which as Aronofsky puts it, "the least biblical Bibilcal movie". Of course, the backlash made other people, most especially atheists, become curious about it and it hit #1 in the US box office on the first week.
The Da Vinci Code is an excellent example. If not for all its controversial aspects, it probably wouldn't be nearly as well known as it is.
Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a "nonfiction" book based on similar ideas got a lot of publicity and sales when the authors sued Dan Brown for plagiarism, even though they lost the case.
Of course, they lost because they claimed their book was nonfiction, because you can't plagiarize facts, or even "facts". If they had claimed they made the whole thing up, they likely would have won.
During a television special on The Da Vinci Code, one of the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail willingly and deliberately provided a lot of information on both books and was actually pretty informative. It seems the authors didn't care so much about having Dan Brown using similar ideas to them because it got them a lot more publicity and opportunities to appear on television to advertise their book. Very smart!
The ironic thing is, the biggest controversial idea brought up in the book - that Mary Magdalene was actually Jesus' wife and that the facts were changed by whoever first penned the information about her in the Bible - is nothing new. The idea has been floating around for centuries, the book being only the first to suggest it in such a public way.
This also happens to Dan Brown's sixth novel, Inferno, where the novel's description of Manila, which is the setting of one of the character's Back Story, received some outcry from some Filipinos. This also led to some curious people buying the novel and only to find out that the description has nothing to do with the plot. Somehow, the controversy also serves as an eye opener to the Manila city government to improve the city's state.
Also occurs in-story in The Order of the Phoenix with Umbridge's ban of Harry's Quibbler interview. As Hermione points out, "If there was one thing she could have done to ensure everyone would read [his] article it was banning it." (This is almost certainly a deliberate in-joke by Rowling, who had heard a lot of this sort of argument after the first four volumes.)
Mein Kampf, Hitler's famous screed, is banned in Germany. Despite this, it still makes the bestsellers list there almost every year. Note that the book itself cannot make it to the bestseller list, given that it wasn't openly sold in its entirety in Germany for nearly 60 years now. The Bavarian state has the copyright for that book that will expire in 2015 (70 years after Hitler's death) and tightly controls reprinting and selling of uncommented or complete copies in Germany. The only openly available prints outside of the Internet are either old, commented or cut.
Al Franken wrote a book called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Fox News, one of the entities with which Franken has a grudge and directly antagonizes in the book's pages, immediately sued for use of their trademarked "Fair and Balanced" tagline, in an attempt to prevent the book from being published. As a result, a lot of people bought the book just to see what all the hubbub was about.
The lawsuit was particularly telling on a number of grounds in and of itself: Fox News did not draw complaints about the portrayals of their anchors (though, to be fair, the book was not yet published at the time), and the suit was functionally laughed out of court, with the judge essentially telling Fox News that their complaint was entirely baseless. Franken did not miss the opportunity to include that information in the republication of his book.
And just over a year after becoming Minnesota's new U.S. Senator, Franken presided over that selfsame judge's confirmation hearings for a promotion to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
"I've been surprised by how little criticism I've got. Harry Potter's been taking all the flak... Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God."
The Film of the Book was more successful at drawing fire, but this didn't lead to any notable box office assistance.
Oprah praised the book A Million Little Pieces and gave it her book-club sticker. Then came the reveal that the author had made up a good portion of the book, which he was selling as a nonfiction memoir. The publicity his book got from having Oprah rake him over the coals was amazing, and sales still went on, because everyone wanted to know what pissed off Oprah.
Most of the works on this list have aroused a lot of controversy, but how many have provoked national leaders to call for the author's execution? Ask Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. After the book's publication, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling on all Muslims to kill Rushdie and his publishers. The book's Japanese translator was killed, the Italian, Norwegian and Turkish translators were attacked, and Rushdie himself had to be put under police protection. Most people would never have heard of the book if not for the fatwa.
And indeed most people outside the Muslim world would not have heard of a fatwa if not for the book. This sometimes leads to Small Reference Pools.
This also worked for the Ayatollah; something a lot of people forget is that The Satanic Verses actually had an Iranian publication and was reviewed in Iranian media. It was only when the Ayatollah needed to shore up internal support that he released the fatwa.
The novella The Great God Pan, published in 1890 (and again in 1894) by Arthur Machen, was decried by the Victorian era press for its immoral and sexual content (for example, a character's "seizures" are actually revealed to be orgasmic convulsions). It went on to become a best-seller of the time period.
Mark Twain once wrote to his editor: "Apparently, the Concord library has condemned Huck as 'trash and only suitable for the slums.' This will sell us another five thousand copies for sure!"
And boy was he right... many libraries around the United States at least usually run a week celebrating "Banned books" that were "challenged" by Moral Guardians back in the day, encouraging kids to read them. Look through the library and ask yourself this... how many kids would have willingly picked up half those books of their own free will were it not for that? Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is just about the number one on the list.
In-story example: In Andrew Clements' Frindle, Nick's teacher expresses outraged disapproval at his creation of a new word for 'pen', spreading it far further than it would have otherwise. Turns out she's quite Genre Savvy and was playing up the villain in order to do precisely that.
Kaavya Viswanathan's debut novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, had already generated quite a bit of publicity at the time of its 2006 release, due to the author being 19 and having written it during her freshman year at Harvard. However, things completely blew up four weeks later when the Harvard Crimson reported that over 40 passages in the book had been plagiarized from two other novels by Megan McCafferty. Sales of the book skyrocketed, but the whole thing ended just a few days later when Viswanathan's publisher recalled the book from stores. After that happened, people were selling it on eBay for $80! (The controversy couldn't have hurt McCafferty, either, as she had just released a third book at almost the same time the first two were suddenly back in the spotlight.)
While Twilight had some praise back in its day that led to some of its success, the movies and books also owe their success to their Hatedom and Hate Dumb, too. A lot of people who never would have heard of the books or seen the movies actually went to read/watch them because they were so angry about it, unable to keep their mouths shut.
To put it into perspective... the original Twilight book was written in 2005. Wanted to find it then? You'd have to do quite a bit of digging in the back of the bookstore. Nowadays? There is often a "Teen paranormal romance" section, and Twilight regularly finds itself on the bestseller lists in the very front of the store.
Johnny Got His Gun, a rather famous antiwar novel, endured this. Published in the mid-30s, it was pulled from publication when America entered World War II; Dalton Trumbo infamously reported people who wrote to him, desperately hoping he had spare copies that he might be willing to part with, to the FBI for "hindering the war effort", as the novel was embraced by the US Isolationist movement in the early years of the war (while Trumbo was anti-war, he hated the Nazis and thought that they needed to be stopped). Trumbo's own legal problems due to his left wing views only added to the book's mystique; it was brought back into print and adapted into a movie by Trumbo during the height of the Vietnam War. But the movie flopped, and the novel itself largely faded into view until Metallica bought the rights to the movie version and re-edited it to create the video for "One" (which was about the novel), their first music video ever. This revived interest in the novel and the movie, though in a bit of irony, Metallica sat on the movie rights for nearly two decades, adding to its infamy due to the fact that many fans considered "One" to be the preferred version of "Johnny Got His Gun", due to the film being seen as being too longwinded for its own good.
Fifty Shades of Grey, within the first year it was printed, sold over 60 million copies (Moreso than Harry Potter!) and is printed in 37 countries. It owes all this to its controversial nature as well as the massive Hate Dom and Hate Dumb it spawned. So much, TV Tropes had to lock both the main page and YMMV page, something they almost never had to do. Congratulations — you turned it into a meme, and now you turned it into a monster. A highly profitable monster.
Budding author Jacqueline Howett, author of Greek Seaman, threw a fit upon getting a review that critiqued her grammar. The review, and her completely unfounded, myopic, immature and (ironically) ungrammatical comments can be found here. In one of her comments she states that she's been getting an increase in sales due to the blog having gone viral.
Religious scholar Reza Aslan (who happens to be Muslim) wrote a book about Jesus Christ, and had a Fox News interview about it where the interviewer was clueless and even somewhat offensive. He shrugged it off and actually said "you can't buy that kind of publicity." In short, people who might not have cared otherwise watched the bad interview to criticize or mock Fox (which has something of a Hatedom, to say the least) and that got them talking about the book as well.
Live Action TV
Married... with Children experienced this in 1989, courtesy of the attempts of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, homemaker Terry Rakolta to boycott the show and get it cancelled. The show itself made reference to her efforts in one episode featuring a television show made about the Bundys' lives, which got immediately cancelled because "some woman in Michigan didn't like it".
"Down with this sort of thing!""Careful now!" Due to a quirk of law, "The Passion of St. Tibulus" (a parody of The Last Temptation of Christ) a film banned by the pope is being shown on Craggy Island, and Bishop Brennan orders Ted and Dougal to protest at the cinema. Soon, people are coming over from the mainland to see it, and the poster is modified as "the film they tried to ban," with pictures of the protest.
"They're even coming from Gdansk to see the film."
This trope can be seen in action during the episode, where the attention of passers by is drawn by the protest and they subsequently go in to watch the film.
In Bones, Booth arranged for a struggling rap artist to be sent to jail for the murder they were investigating if he cooperated, explaining to a confused Brennan that whenever a rapper goes to jail, their sales go up.
Gossip Girl used negative reviews in billboard ads, generally criticizing it for being excessively sleazy, all accompanied by Fetish Fuel stills.
Unsurprisingly the stills are more racy than anything in the show.
The show uses this In-Universe with the line "You're nobody until you're talked about"
Police, Camera, Action!: the series returned after a five-year Hiatus, and the media hype over the drink-drive incident died down. It's still in production now. It seems this show has become a Karma Houdini, which is a rare feat.
Deadliest Warrior. For the uninitiated, the show takes two real-life armies/warrior cultures/commanders/crime syndicates, tests the weapons to decide which would win in a fight. They seem to love this trope. Matchups fitting the trope include Mafia vs. Yakuza, SS vs. Viet Cong (yeah, THAT SS), IRA vs Taliban (actually BANNED in Britain), Somali Pirate vs. Medellin Cartel, and arguably Jesse James vs. Al Capone.
In-universe. An episode of Law & Order, based on the Puff Daddy/Jennifer Lopez shooting incident, sees a rapper put on trial for a murder he knows his movie star girlfriend committed. Why did he keep quiet all through his trial? Because his CD sales were going into orbit.
Serena Southerlyn: In a weird way, the dismissal hurt Collins more than the indictment. When his fans found out he wasn't the killer, his CD dropped ten places on the charts.
Jack McCoy: At this rate, he might actually have to go out and shoot somebody.
Anything done by/involving/remotely related to a "reality TV star." Here's (unfortunately) looking at you, Tila Tequila.
Jersey Shore owes most of its success. Despite some advertisers actually taking away their ads and Abercrombie even asking The Situation not to wear their clothes, the show still went strong. This is especially true about Snooki, who is often mocked for her ignorance but still got a book deal.
The slightly infamous Snuggie blankets are banking on this in commercials aired in late 2010, saying to effect, "No matter what channel you're watching, you just can't help but hear about the Snuggie!"
Arrested Development featured an in-universe example at the end of its second season. Maeby produces an American remake of a French film about cousins dating. A religious group (led by the girlfriend of Maeby's cousin George-Michael) protests the film and turns it into a hit.
'90s talk show host Jenny Jones once featured a straight guy, Jonathan Schmitz, whose gay friend, Scott Amedure, admitted that he had a crush on him. Schmitz was all laughs on the show, but murdered Amadure three days later. The resulting media firestorm led to a huge spike in ratings for the show.
While American Idol itself doesn't encourage bad singers, every season has at least someone that is so incredibly bad that they become an internet meme for a month. In one season, there was William Hun, a dorkable guy that tried to sing Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" and failed horribly at it, but was popular enough to get record deals and other recordings because of his positive personality and he took the criticisms in stride. However, there was another contestant that tried to sing the Jigglypuff song (yes, the same lullaby the Pokemon uses in the anime) and it sounded like he was trying to be bad on purpose. He didn't get the same amount of fame as William did, but he gained infamy nonetheless.
There are also rumors that the producers deliberately let extremely bad singers pass during their pre screening phase in order to display their bad talents to the judges and boost ratings from it. In either case, there are people that know they cannot sing at all, but will deliberately sing horribly on the show just to get their 15 minutes of fame, even if they are being mocked for it.
Joe Carroll of The Following wrote a book known as The Gothic Sea before he was outed as a serial killer. Pre-exposure, it was panned by critics, and was a massive flop. After his arrest for multiple murders, it became a bestseller.
In Glee the kids who are not on the Glist get up to all sorts to try to raise their profile and get on to the list despite the Glist not really being a list most people would like to be on.
Season 15 of Big Brother U.S. It brought a huge amounts of controversy due to racist comments made by several houseguests. Its ratings spiked after CBS decided to air the comments, and despite the trash-talking, still topped the charts in terms of Audience Participation voting for their favourite player.
Done in-universe in an episode of Night Court. A Andrew Dice Clay stand-in was being attacked by a preacher who called him immoral and filthy. It turned out that the two were working together to get each other more media exposure. At the end, Bull (who had been trying to sell a book he'd written all episode) hired the guy to do the same for him.
Leonard, of Community, is a strong believer in this. Not only does he invoke the trope by name when someone mentions his crooked wang, he also doesn't care what people think of his frozen pizza reviews on YouTube, as long as they're talking about them.
Many forms of popular music in the 20th century were largely built on controversy. Ragtime, blues, jazz, swing, rock and roll and it's sub-genres, heavy metal and punk, and their sub-genres, and gangster rap. Some received considerably larger backlashes than others, but they were all aided by the claims that they had marked the downfall of society.
Pop stars that are hugely popular among teen and tween girls, particularly in recent years, have received lots of free publicity both from criticisms for their highly sexual images being inappropriate for their fan base, and from their obsessive Hate Dumbs.
Erykah Badu brought her name back into the spotlight with the video for her song "Window Seat", in which she strips entirely naked and mimes being shot. At DealeyPlaza, no less! She later received a fine.
Madonna probably wouldn't have sold as well if she didn't constantly piss people off by doing things like setting crosses on fire, making out with a black saint, and masturbating on stage.
ACDC owes their rise to accusations of Satanism on account of their songs like "Highway To Hell"
And before that, to getting into a brawl with members of Deep Purple at the 1974 Sunbury music festival.
Even before fitting the Satanic bill with The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden had this with the cover for "Sanctuary", that had Eddie killing Margaret Thatcher. Steve Harris said it was just a joke given they were always asked if "Iron Maiden" was due to "Iron Lady", but their manager thought extra publicity helped by adding a black bar to Thatcher's face "as this would give the tabloids an angle and draw attention to the single."
After Destinys Child changed members and Beyoncé developed a Hatedom, they rose in popularity and "Survivor" outsold their previous efforts. Matthew Knowles even says "There's no such thing as bad publicity" in her Driven special.
Lady Gaga's sales skyrocketed after Fred Phelps called for a boycott of her as well as attacks from other less extreme homophobes.
2Pac's first album 2Pacalypse Now was only a modest success. Then, as the result of some teenager shooting a state trooper and claiming to be influenced by the record, Dan Quayle publicly denounces the record as having 'No place in our society'. Now 2Pac is considered one of, if not the, greatest rappers who ever lived. 2Pac personally took great enjoyment in this public denouncement, using Quayle's audio clips as part of Pac's Theme in his next album.
2Pac had this effect on Biggie Smalls as well. Biggie was fairly popular but had only put out one album at the time that 2Pac was accusing him publicly of being involved in his shooting. This, coupled with the subsequent East-West Coast Rivalry ensured that Biggie, who would only put out two albums compared to 2Pac's six, would be forever compared with and alongside 2Pac.
Southern rapper, Ludacris, was popular only with hardcore rap fans. He only became a household name in America after Bill O Reilly of Fox News went on a personal campaign trying to persuade his audience not to buy and listen the rap artist music, especially after the hit rap single "Area Codes" came out. Instead, the opposite effect happened and Ludacris became one of the biggest rap artist of the early 2000s, even being elevated to getting movie roles. O Reilly finally stopped his campaign against Ludacris, after it came out he was sexually harassing a fellow female employee, which many of his detractors pointed out as hypocritical. And despite many hit rap songs, the one rap song Ludacris is known for the most is... you guess it, "Area Codes".
Eminem's enormous popularity was fueled by the amount of people protesting him (especially at the Grammies) constantly. He got hate from both sides of the political spectrum; the bible thumping Christians on the right and from gay rights groups like GLAAD and feminist groups on the left for his supposedly homophobic lyrics and for songs like "Kim" and "Stan" being accused of promoting violence against women, respectively. And he knows it; he said at an awards show that "Every time a critic pans me, I sell more records so I really want to thank you people."
In an inversion, this is largely considered the reason he got snubbed of the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2000 (the first time a hardcore rap album was nominated for it) losing to Steely Dan. The Academy would have done anything to avoid the controversy of having to actually give him the award in the midst of the protests.
Emo was gaining some popularity among teenagers in Mexico. Then, some people in Queretaro decided to "recover" the "plaza de armas" where they were known to spend time... with violence. This sparked a huge scandal, causing the number of teenage emos... to double, since now, everybody and their mother knew what emo was.
Speaking of Emo, this trope is more or less the point of the Fall Out Boy song, "I Don't Care." It's chorus contains the line, "I don't care what you think, as long as it's about me."
The Scorpions' album Virgin Killer, infamous for its cover art containing an artistically nude10 year old girl, became one of the biggest pages on Wikipedia the moment the Internet Watch Foundation had it banned. It had 372,000 views one day in December 2008!
"When I wrote 'Only the Good Die Young', the point of the song wasn't so much anti-Catholic as pro-lust", Joel told Performing Songwriter magazine. "The minute they banned it, the album started shooting up the charts."
Sales of TLC's 1994 album CrazySexyCool broke records after Left Eye landed in jail for burning down her on-and-off boyfriend's house a few months earlier.
Marilyn Manson is the master of this trope. Not so evident anymore since they're not quite as shocking as they once were, but in their heyday in the mid and late 90's, they received a lot of free advertising from Christian groups protesting their "blasphemous" lyrics. They reached their peak for using this trope after the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado in 1999. Manson's music was blamed for inciting the shooters in the massacre to commit their actions, giving them tons of free publicity from the news media.
Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood initially peaked at number 6 in the singles chart. It was subsequently banned by the BBC (and its videos didn't fare much better) shortly after its release and hit number one on five consecutive occasions. Even the Beeb itself has poked fun at this in more recent broadcasts.
Justin Bieber owes a good portion to his popularity to his obsessive Hate Dom and Hate Dumb. It's a vicious cycle for the haters: the more famous he gets the more they hate him, and the more they hate him the more famous he gets.
Similarly, Rebecca Black's "Friday" wouldn't have become such a hit if not for the people linking to the video just to show others how bad it is. The main difference here is that Bieber has a significant fanbase backing him, while Black does not.
British boy band One Direction fits this trope the exact same way Bieber does. An American pop-rock band, Uncharted Shores, was known as One Direction for the first three years of their career, and formed about a year before the British group did. As soon as a lawsuit was filed, Directioners quickly took notice and started protesting against the band, even sending a few hashtags up the charts; and the US group's YouTube videos had terrible like-to-dislike ratios. Unsurprisingly, nothing supporting the American group was able to trend.
Michael Jackson, in The Eighties, deliberately cultivated bizarre publicity for himself by becoming a Reclusive Artist and offering made-up stories to the tabloid press that claimed he 1) regularly slept in a hyperbaric chamber in order to live to 150 and 2) wanted to buy the skeletal remains of Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man". This and The Tyson Zone applying to his real life by that point (this was the era of Bubbles the chimp, etc.) encouraged further wacky stories to circulate. Similarly, he didn't seem to mind all the negative press that came in the wake of the 1991 premiere of the video for "Black or White", which premiered on four different networks in prime time and started out as family-friendly, but ended with a tuneless, car-smashing, crotch-grabbing, fly-zipping epilogue. (The Dangerous — The Short Films collection of videos from this album includes a brief montage of post-premiere news coverage.) The public perception of him as a first-class weirdo turned on him as The Nineties progressed, especially after he was first accused of child molestation in '93. All along, Jackson always painted himself as a helpless, suffering victim of the evil tabloid press/mass media, and his fans continue to carry the torch for him after his death.
The shambolic live broadcast of the BRIT Awards in 1989, which was poorly organized and hosted by Mick Fleetwood and Samantha Fox (neither of whom had much experience as television presenters) has been described as the most important thing that ever happened to the awards, renewing the public's interest in this show that was "prepared to take live risks". Ironically, as a result of this broadcast (which could only be described as catastrophic in almost every sense), the Awards weren't broadcast live again for almost twenty years. So much for taking live risks.
The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) did this for almost every band that they protested during the '80s, though WASP were the ones that benefited the most, as they're record sales doubled soon after Tipper Gore did her rant about how the band's initials supposedly stood for "We Are Sexual Perverts".
The PMRC also helped lots of musicians through their successful push to have "Parental Advisory" stickers, nicknamed "Tipper Stickers" on music albums, which helped let people know exactly which albums were cool and had the Forbidden Fruit.
The original cover for The Beatles 1966 U.S. album "Yesterday...And Today" featured the group posing in butcher aprons with cuts of bloodied meat and dismembered baby dolls. Rumor had it that this was in protest of Capitol Records "butchering" their albums by taking a Cut-and-Paste Translation approach to the track-lists — in fact, the intent of the photo was to subvert the band's wholesome image, it wasn't intended as album art at all, and apparently it was Capitol themselves who chose to put it on the front of the album, without The Beatles' knowledge. After a backlash of initial protest, the boys made a second cover, posing quietly around a steamer trunk. Some album sleeves with the "butcher" cover that had not left the press shop yet had the new cover photo pasted over.
John Lennon's off-the-record quote that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus" sparked even louder outrage, especially among the Bible Belt. His clarification and apology did little to appease the extreme fundamentalists.
Parodied in The Rutles, which pointed out that people were buying Rutles/Beatles albums just to burn them.
Most fans of For Lovers Only know Joe Jonas' "Just In Love" because of accusations of plagiarism in the clip. It's likely that the accusations helped people from both fandoms find the other, even if it was through hatred.
Alice Cooper invented "shock rock" and shot his album sales through the roof with his violent stage shows that consisted of "executing" himself on stage and other crazy antics.
During a 1969 concert in Toronto, Cooper picked up a chicken someone had thrown onstage and tossed it back out to the audience, vaguely thinking that it would fly away. Turns out that chickens can't fly that well — it plummeted into the audience, which promptly tore it to shreds. This story quickly mutated into a rumor that Cooper himself had actually bitten the head off the chicken. Cooper received a phone call from Frank Zappa asking if he'd done so. When he replied that he hadn't, Zappa said, "Well, don't tell anybody you didn't do it!"
Britney Spears, she has run the gauntlet on bad press, hyper visual controversies, media overexposure, Moral Guardians getting moody with her, image issues, negative backlash after she became more than a recyclable pop princess and became a sexual being and strong woman. None of these issues have stopped her from flourishing and outliving certain members of her contemporaries who have not shone so brightly, or had as many issues, controversies and general negativity aimed at them...and some of them quit.
Though completely unintentional, Jennifer Hudson got a ton of publicity from her mother, brother, and nephew being murdered. It made her into a huge Woobie and most likely has contributed to her success.
Even fans of Norwegian Black Metal bands like Burzum and Mayhem acknowledge that they probably wouldn't have heard of them if not for the various violent crimes committed by the members of said bands.
The Body Count song "Cop Killer" is somewhat of a subversion. The song garnered enormous controversy during the early-'90s (especially from figures like Tipper Gore) and was even blamed for the Los Angeles Riots that took place in 1992. However, in spite of its publicity, the song never became a hit outside of certain crime syndicates. Ice-T himself has publicly admitted that (despite its massive publicity) it wasn't a very good song, so he had no qualms about removing it from the band's self-titled album.
This trope may indeed be helping Miley Cyrus in her transition to a more adult image in 2013-14. She seems to be better associated as a "twerk queen" rather than "Hannah Montana", and it has given her more freedom and new audiences for her movies, music, etc.
I don't care what you think As long as it's about me...
To this day, Vince Russo defends the work he did as head writer in WCW (which included such things as a stable of wrestlers whose names were mostly dick jokes and putting the World Championship on David Arquette) by saying "It got people talking about us!" Never mind that most of the talk was about how ridiculous and embarrassing it was.
..and that in the end, all the talk was for naught, since the company went under less than two years after Russo's initial hiring, and most of the things Russo likes to take credit for are now considered Dethroning Moments of Suck.
Seemingly also Eric Bischoff's modus operandi, as highlighted by his autobiography Controversy Creates Cash.
While All Pro Wrestling owner Roland Alexander did not have the most flattering portrayal in Beyond the Mat, aspiring wrestlers have flocked to him ever since the film came out.
CM Punk has this in spades; on numerous occassions, he has used homophobic slurs as part of his heel persona against wrestling audience members, yet managed to come out with little blowback. Even during the 2011 "Summer of Punk", when he was at the center of the WWE's biggest storyline in nearly a decade and moreso, in tense down to the wire negotiations with the WWE to get his contract renewed, Punk's homophobic comments against a fan didn't hurt him a bit, even after they got reported by Perez Hilton on his website.
Howard Stern's career could be considered a Trope Definer for this. Stern's shock material has continuously had Moral Guardians up in arms, and as such, they've only continuously ensured that his endeavors continue to have high publicity by their very public and direct attempts to censor him.
Mortal Kombat, during the '90s, was a prime example of this. The game garnered an enormous backlash from Moral Guardians and parents alike, with some senators even lobbying to pull the game from store shelves and arcades altogether. Of course, this just added to the game's "cool factor" among children, and thus, the game not only became a massive success but (along with Doom, mentioned below) showed the world that video games could indeed have grown-up appeal. This would be further developed during the fifth and sixth generations.
The first Resistance game enjoyed increased sales after the Church of England, and a Mancunian Member of Parliament, complained about the inclusion of Manchester Cathedral in the game.
Acclaim proved that this by itself doesn't work. They tried to do this intentionally to no avail. They had one contest where people would change their names to "Turok", or pay people to advertise on relatives' gravestones. Finally they turned what was to be the third game in the Dave Mirra BMX series into Dave Mirra BMX XXX; after Dave Mirra sued, they simply called it BMX XXX. Acclaim finally went into bankruptcy in 2004.
While Rockstar Games does make legitimately good games, they also thrive on generating controversy and thus get huge publicity from it. Jack Thompson may have done more for Rockstar's sales than their entire marketing department.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on the other hand, encountered mix results of this. By the time it came out the series' shock value had gone down, but got a huge new boost after the discovery of the "Hot Coffee" sex mini game mod. While the game did get tons of publicity for this, it also led to a huge recall of the game which ended up costing Rockstar tens of millions of dollars.
Bully received tons of complaints before its release for the belief it that it had the player take on the role of a bully or that it was even a Columbine simulator. While this turned out to not be true, Rockstar didn't do much to dispel the rumors. After the game came out, and it turned out the moral guardians had overreacted, as the game has no killing, no guns, and no blood, they decided the needed something else to complain about, so they got angry the game's option of kissing other boys.
Mass Effect 1 was helped by Fox News airing a long segment on the sex scenes, in which they included the trailer for the game.
Nintendo's unveiling of the Wii's name caused a lot of fuss and jokes all over the Internet, but it sure made people aware of the system easily. Even the press representative joked about it. Yahtzee would later point out that "we soon forgot that Nintendo named a console after a bodily fluid".
In a subversion, it would appear that the opposite happened to the PlayStation 3, which was initially the worst selling of the big three consoles. It took a while to claw back the ground it lost to the Wii and the Xbox 360 after a series of embarrassing media gaffes (The Giant Enemy Crab, "Riiiiiiiidge Raaaaaacer!!!", the (scrapped) boomerang controller, and Ken Kutagari's claim that people would pay any price for a PlayStation because it's a PlayStation, among the more memorable), combined with a lack of decent games on launch and an outrageous retail price of FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE U.S. DOLLARS.
Final Fantasy XI forums now have a new unwritten rule: "Stop making threads about Pandemonium Warden (which takes at least a full day to beat) when it shows up in a new news outlet."
The downloadable PlayStation 3 game Fat Princess is about soldiers from red and blue teams rescuing their princess, who is being held in the enemy team's castle. The enemy team, for their part, can feed said princess cake to make her harder to carry. A blogger ranted about it, and was trolled (the definition of a troll including anyone who disagreed with her at all). The trolled post currently has over a thousand comments. The end result is that several blogs made fun of the initial blogger, and several others linked her in support. The blog got a lot of new readers, and several gamers vowed to buy several extra copies of the game just to piss the blogger off. In other words, both sides of the debate benefited.
Inversion: Majesco exploited the frenzy surrounding PETA's Darker and EdgierCooking Mama rip-off by issuing a Take That message to them supposedly written by Mama herself... which is also a completely not thinly-veiled press release for Cooking Mama World Kitchen, which (obviously for the series) is completely clean unlike that madness of a Flash game that the animal rights group just unleashed.
Similar to the Cooking Mama example above, Edmund McMillen, the creator of Meat Boy, intentionally made sockpuppet accounts on the PETA forums to endorse his game. Eventually, Super Tofu Boy was made, creating one of the best publicity stunts for a game that would have otherwise slipped past the mainstream gaming radar.
In Brazil, when the government prohibited the selling of Everlast, Counter-Strike, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on any shop or their availability in Lan Houses Country-wide for their unquestionable violence, the demand of those games almost doubled.
CNN ran a story about the hentai game Rapelay, making people who have never hear of the game to Google it and warez copies.
A case where it very much was bad publicity, since none of those people actually paid for the game, and CNN's intentionally stirred-up moral outrage had nasty repercussions throughout the entire industry when someone started yelling at the UN about how much Japan sucks. Not surprisingly, the makers of Rapelay were pissed.
Worse, the Rapelay incident is the primary reason why eroge companies are scared shitless of even thinking about releasing their titles outside of Japan: they don't want the same happening to them.
Another in-universe example: Although how well-known you are in the game world of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is divided into Fame (good deeds) and Infamy (criminal deeds), e.g. the access to Heaven Stones is regulated by the sum of both (Renown), so that both Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil characters get those cool innate powers they grant.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution had a beta that was leaked by a disgruntled employee. Reports say that it cost the studio quite a bit of money. However, the payoff was that many who hated the direction the game was going in had decided to pre-order it.
Postal 2 was the target of Computer Gaming World's first-ever zero-star rating, with the reviewer going so far as to say that the game was the worst product ever sold "until someone boxes up syphilis and tries to sell it at retail". The line in question was then reproduced on the back of the box for the Fudge Pack rerelease.
In Ace Attorney, with the publicity of being involved in a murder case, the Gatewater Hotel eventually gets a theme park made with its name.
Doom received some free publicity for its violent content, but it had primitive graphics and non-shocking gameplay (the player is your average good guy who merely kills hellspawn and zombies without murdering cops, working for mobsters or soliciting prostitutes), which reduced the potential for media scandal. However, after the Columbine High School shootings, it was reported that the shooters were fans of the game and that one of them had designed levels that resembled the school. While this was untrue - he had, in fact, designed some unremarkable Doom levels (one of which featured custom-made gorier monster death animations, albeit cheap ones), but none depicting the school - the media ran with it anyway, and kindly gifted id with a lot more sales.
Call of Duty has a ton of hatedom and Hate Dumb amongst the gaming community. Hasn't stopped them from making bestseller lists every year and game stores from running out of copies on release day.
Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 has a particularly infamous case with the "No Russian" level. As of the release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, "No Russian" is the only mission in the series that allows the player to wantonly execute innocent civilians for no other reason than perpetrating a terrorist attack. There was a huge media firestorm over the inclusion of the level, with various media outlets and gaming blogs debating the moral and ethical implications not just for the game, but for the gaming industry as a whole. However, that controversy (and the high praise for the first installment in the Modern Warfare series) propelled 2 to the biggest entertainment launch of all time (later succeeded by the third installment). It's notable that in the game itself, the player has the option to skip the scene if they don't like the violent content.
Dragon's Crown's art style caused controversy in Western countries because the art style is almost offensivelyFanservicey. Likewise, this provided all sorts of free advertisement.
The VGX 2013 reveal of Cranky Kong being playable in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze angered quite a few people who, thanks to a heavy amount of speculation on what Nintendo could be showing off at a program they had never appeared on before, were expecting information on Super Smash Bros. or even The Legend of Zelda. But if the goal was to give any sort of extra publicity to Tropical Freeze, it certainly worked, as "Cranky Kong" peaked at the #2 Twitter trend in the hours after the reveal (indeed, it was practically the only thing retweeted from VGX), and all the angry reactions have kept the game's name in headlines across numerous gaming news outlets and forums.
Sniper: Path of Vengeance, a little-known cruddy game with an amusing lot of Good Bad Bugs, rocketed to top of video game selling charts for a while in Hungary when a famous game reviewer ran a video series on it. Actually, Sniper was also the very first game he reviewed, so in a sense, they've both made each other famous. The game now has something of a cult following in the country, to the point where some fans have even hunted down and interviewed its Polish creator. Sadly he didn't receive any royalties from the game's popularity boom, since the rights got sold off long before.
EA was responsible for developing the multiplayer aspect of the Medal of Honor reboot, and with that they ended up revealing that players could play as the Taliban. This lasted just long enough to generate the required controversy and free publicity before it was removed.
Rock Star Ate My Hamster uses this trope in-universe: any Tabloid Melodrama story is good publicity so long as it's the top headline... except when the word in the headline following "rock star" is "dies," which means one of your band members is gone for good.
Hatred, a Steam Greenlight game that was pulled from the marketplace due to concerns about the content... which caused controversy not because of the content, but because it was removed from Steam greenlight. Not only was it placed back online, it later became the number one seller on Steam Greenlight.
Several people discovered Exterminatus Now after it was featured in Something Awful's Awful Link Of The Day, even despite them showing possibly the most atypical strip in the archives note not only is the strip in question a guest strip drawn by Lothar's girlfriend, but as the authors themselves said, the comic "doesn't do bedroom scenes".
Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, of Penny Arcade, have more or less made their business on proving this notion wrong. There is such a thing as bad publicity, and Gabe & Tycho know exactly how to dish it out.
Plus, look at any time they've butted heads with someone (most recently being Gamestop, over Penny Arcade's positively appalling claim that someone OTHER than Gamestop would be selling On The Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness! The nerve!). They just walk away and succeed without help.
Speaking of On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, advertisements for the first episode proudly featured quotes from a particularly loathsome troll who denounced the game, along with Penny Arcade in general.
When people still paid any attention to him, Jack Thompson did this for the PA guys time and time again. The biggest was undoubtedly when Thompson sent out a press release to any media camp that would listen and the WA state governor that he had requested the Seattle police to look into harassment charges (made especially funny when he claimed a $10,000 check given to charity in his name was assault of some kind), as well as a list of other petty things. He forgot to send anything to the police. There was back-and-forth between Thompson and PA (mainly headed by Gabe for the most part), with Thompson constantly crying out he was the victim, and nobody believing him. PA came out on top, and Thompson only brought his douchebaggery ways to the attention of the Florida State Bar.
The only reason anyone knows about Sonichu is because of its author's exploits around the internet, many of them having severely damaged the man's credibility. The author himself, on the other hand, stands firmly by this trope, and believes himself to have a loyal fanbase of over a billion readers judging by the number of hits his Youtube videos receive.
Pembroke, the creator of Femmegasm referenced this trope in response to a negative review from the Bad Webcomics Wiki:
Also I don't mind them hating on my anymore due to the fact it works against them. In short, every time I get a bad review a ton of people come to my site to see what the big deal is about, and a decent amount of them stay and continue to read my comic. In short their hate benefits me. Humorously positive reviews get me less views... go fig.
The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic ask blog Ask Princess Molestia attracted the attention of angry social justice warriors a little over halfway through its run. They accused artist John Joseco of rape apology and retaliated with the "Down With Molestia" movement, among other attempts to get the thing pulled off of Tumblr (it eventually was, for unrelated reasons and towards its natural end anyway). Of course, all of this had little lasting effect and in the end did nothing but spread the blog's notoriety.
Casper: That's it! I'm tired of leaving no lasting impact on the creative media!
South Park rode into success by using this strategy for its first few seasons but toned it down a little after that. While still having no shortage of crude humor, the show switched more toward social and political satire.
Setting themselves up to make out from their most recent endeavor, with their abortion episode that got banned from being shown on Fox.
Durward Kirby, co-star of Candid Camera in the early 1960s, once threatened to sue Jay Ward Inc for parodying his name in Rocky and Bullwinkle (with a Nice Hat called the "Kirward Derby"). Ward's response? "Please sue us, we love the publicity." Kirby dropped it because his case wasn't strong enough.
Code Monkeys In-universe. The episode, "The Story of 420", pokes fun at this happening with video games. First Lady Nancy Reagan forces Game-a-Vision to put warning labels on all of their games stating "Playing this game increases the likelihood that you will engage in drug use and deviant sex". While Larrity objects at first, he's then extremely happy as the labels cause their game sales to skyrocket to the point where Reagan then has to reverse the move and ban them from having the labels on their games.
Arguably, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic would never have found its popularity with older fans, particularly on the internet, had it not been for these twoarticles. Both articles decry the show for various reasons, which prompted the /co/ board on 4chan to see if really was so bad, causing it to take off in online popularity.
The Simpsons had an in-universe case of inversion when Krusty needed a way to increase the sales of Absolute Krusty. (Yes, it's a vodka brand) Krusty was baffled at the idea of such thing as good publicity existing.
In the season 4 premiere episode of the Boondocks, Pretty Boy Flizzy, a parody of Chris Brown, explains this trope to Tom Dubios, after Tom found out he staged the convenient story robbery and most of his other criminal actions, except the Crystalia (Rihanna) beating. He explains that his only fan base are women whom like his bad boy image, because women hate men who are boring.
She Zow got the best free publicity possible when the far right One Million Moms attacked it as promoting a "gay transvestite agenda."
In 1595, French author Montaigne wrote in his Essais: "Trogus Pompeius says of Herostratus, and Titus Livius of Manlius Capitolinus, that they were more ambitious of a great reputation than of a good one. This is very common; we are more solicitous that men speak of us, than how they speak: and it is enough for us that our names are often mentioned, be it after what manner it will."
From a letter by painter Thomas Buchanan Read: "The small beer poets and ginger pop painters have always been industrious in abusing me into notice, and I am indebted to them, but shall not pay them back in kind, it being far more generous to let them remain in their well-earned obscurity."
One truly ironic example. The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 might not have succeeded if not for someone who opposed it. The organizers had little means to distribute the information to the black community except word of mouth and flyers. Eventually, however, a white editor of a major newspaper got ahold of one of the flyers, and wrote a nasty editorial condemning the boycott, thereby spreading the word to the entire black community of Montgomery. (And seeing as not everyone owned a television or even a radio at the time, this condemnation got the word out better than anything else almost overnight.)
Subverted by painter Salvador Dali, who once said: "What matters is that people talk about me, even if it's good!"
An odd double example with Kanye West's shenanigans at the VMAs. While it's likely he did it in part because he was drunk (people tend to forget that he came up to the stage with a mostly empty bottle of Hennessy) and really did think that Beyonce's video was better he still gained quite a bit of press from it. And then he conversely ended up giving Taylor Swift more publicity. Although she was already popular and successful, quite a few people admitted afterward that they hadn't known who she was until after the incident.
Ray Comfort's claim that the banana is undeniable proof of God's creation of the universe has been thoroughly crushed, both for the fact that modern bananas are a result of human cultivation and the Accidental Innuendo. He's since made the claim that his public humiliation has only served to let more people know about the Gospel... and that he knew that bananas were cultivated by humans all along. Suuuuure you did. Comfort would later claim that the entire thing was "satire." Of what, he couldn't tell you.
Not only did he probably not know ahead of time, but even if he did, it would be seen as dishonest manipulation by most Christians, creationist or no. So either way you slice it, he just made things worse — sabotaging his own cause and annoying people on his own side as well.
Some suspect this was the idea behind the abortive Ashley Madison transit ad campaign in Toronto. The online dating site aimed at adulterers had offered the transit commission unprecedented amounts of money for the ad space and promised to stave off a coming fare hike, but of course the organization turned them down, citing concerns over "family values", resulting in a storm of controversy over free speech and such. It's quite likely the reason so much money was offered was they knew they were counting on never having to make good on it and getting their advertising free from the local news instead.
Sanford Wallace, the self-titled "Spam King" (e-mail, not meat product) was a firm believer in this. In the end, though, his spam "empire" has been smashed into little bits, and except for occasionally being targeted by lawsuits that mostly fade into obscurity fairly quickly he's mostly a non-entity on the internet.
After the US government got angry at Wikileaks for leaking the government's top secrets, giving it mass media coverage, Wikileaks was temporarily higher in the Google Suggestions pool than Wikipedia, which has been around and popular for years. Now a very large portion of Internet users know the USA's top secrets. Let's not forget that in order to be that shallow in the Google Suggestions pool, it must have been searched by Google users a whole lot of times. Before the publicity, it was not too well-known. But, after the media coverage, there are now over 300 mirrors, meaning that this will stay on the Internet... forever. Oops?
The No Cussing Club had a lot of publicity, but because of all the hatemail and Anonymous attacks, it got even more. Now the founder boasts not giving up despite being the most cyberbullied kid in the world. He even released a book and a DVD about it.
Those who subscribe to the "She outed herself" theory of the Traci Lords underage porn scandal (which includes pretty much adult performer and director active at the time) believe this was much of the motivation behind the initial outing: Lords wanted to ride the controversy into a mainstream film career. If that truly was the case (it's still unknown who actually leaked Lords' actual age), mission accomplished. Lords has had a respectable non-porn career.
The controversy also worked out great for actress Vanessa L Williams as well: Williams posed for a spread in Penthouse a few months before being crowned Miss America (and later stripped of her crown due to the photos.) This is the same issue in which Lords was that month's centerfold. Since the issue was thus rendered illegal to own or sell due to Lords being underage, distribution of it became extremely limited, and allowed Williams to prevent her acting career from being damaged by scandal.
It's a common practice for companies — usually ones who can't even hope to pony up the cash to land an ad slot — to submit a racy/morally offensive/questionable ad to the Super Bowl, causing them to get rejected — and thus landing them the publicity that comes with getting rejected from the largest stage of the commercial world. The abovementioned Ashley Madison has pulled this stunt.
PETA. If they're not trying to turn children against their parents with nightmarish pamplets depicting parents happily disemboweling animals or throwing the corpses of euthanized animals on the doorstep of businesses, they're posing nude on the street or writing a will dedicating their bodies to be barbecued in a public venue. Infamy just means the message is getting out there! Really! Even though, if you described half of these shock stunts to a neutral party unfamiliar with them, they'd have no bloody idea what message that's supposed to be.
PETA themselves has caused this, though, with their attacks against Cooking Mama, Super Meat Boy and Super Mario 3D Land, boosting the games' popularity. Majesco and Edmund McMillen turned PETA's attacks to their commercial advantages with a Take That statement and a trollingBatman Gambit respectively as stated above, while Nintendo simply issued a response saying that PETA overanalyzed the Tanooki Suitnote if you want to know, the actual statement is: "Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games. These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself. These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play. The different forms Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves." (if only because they didn't need bad publicity per se, Mario being Mario).
After PETA's attack on Pokémon, it seemed like Nintendo had enough, responding with "Nintendo takes its intellectual property seriously." This did not stop PETA from creating a sequel game not more than a year later.
In politics, this is known as "shifting the Overton Window". Political positions that are "unthinkable" become more accepted by being discussed in the media.
On a similar note, the anti-gay protests by the Westboro Baptist Church have actually hurt the church more than anything else as of late, and gained sympathy and support for the LGBT community. News of their protests often creates counter-protests numbering in the thousands, and state governments are finding more and more loopholes in the original Supreme Court decision to make sure they keep their distance from funerals.
The Southern Baptists eventually gave up (saying so publically) after their boycott of Disney for hiring gays and lesbians only made Disney's stock rise. (They had no more success trying to turn people against Starbucks, Cheerios, Oreos, Microsoft, and several other much-beloved products and companies, which is no surprise.)
The UK courts have ordered major Internet Service Providers to block access to the file sharing search engine The Pirate Bay by May 30th 2012. Soon after the first ISP implemented the block it was reported that The Pirate Bay had actually seen the number of visits increase by several million. Many of these extra visitors are assumed to be people who hadn't heard about the site until it was reported in the news, while some others are visitors who are just trying to circumvent the block.
Anyone on the internet that posts questionable content (as in controversial topics or posting subjective quality artwork) will usually get a lot of backdraft from trolls or the Hate Dom. The poster in question may use this sort of attention to keep posting more content that is sure to get attention no matter how bad or subjective said content is. In other words, the poster will assume negative attention equals popularity and will keep doing it.
There is a disorder that relies on this trope. People who crave attention will accept ANY kind of attention, even if it's a bad one, because some attention of any flavor is better than being ignored entirely. It's also part of the reason why the Attention Whore trope exists.
Around July of 2012, the CEO of Chik-fil-A, a chicken based fast food chain, made a comment on the radio stating that he was against gay marriage. Combined with the millions of dollars he has donated to anti-gay organizations, including several that are labeled hate-groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, this caused a massive uproar across the the United States and created a divide between the supporters and the protesters. The people that were appalled by the CEO's comment staged protests and boycotts of the fast food chain while supporters went out to eat at every Chik-fil-A restaurant to show the CEO their support. Some cities are also banning the fast food chain from setting up business in their city because of the controversial comment. A few months later it was announced that the company would stop donating to anti-gay groups a few months after the initial kerfuffle... and then it was discovered that they lied about that. All in all more people likely know about the company now thanks to the whole story than if it had never happened.
The Garbage Pail Kids trading cards that were popular in The Eighties. Early on, sales were slow... then they started to take off when parents and teachers started to complain about the cards being in bad taste and banning them from households/schools.
Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams once called Allah "the terrorists' monkey god". (Fridge Logic and Critical Research Failure ensues when one considers that "Allah" refers to the same being as the Christian god.) He would later state in an interview with the Washington Post that the controversy incited by his statement had been great for the movement's visibility.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg had passed several laws and regulations that either regulates or bans something in order to boost life expectancy and to ease the strain on the healthcare system. Smoking has been heavily restricted (and he currently trying to make it illegal to have cigarettes out in full view in order to protect kids), trans fat oils has been banned in the city, and the mayor wanted all sodas sold beyond 16 oz cups to be banned, but the proposal was blocked by a judge. Citizens and critics alike blasted the mayor for trying to meddle in everyone's lifestyles and many have called him the nanny mayor, but Bloomberg openly stated that he doesn't mind being called a nanny if it means getting people to start changing their lifestyles for a better healthy one.
It's still too early to tell for sure, but it looks as though Duck Dynasty might have inverted this trope. Ratings for the season 5 premiere (the first episode since Phil Robertson's interview, in which he uttered controversial statements) were down 28% from the season 4 premiere. Entertainment Weekly even commented, "Maybe there is such a thing as bad publicity?"
A big reason for that is, Phil made some more controversial remarks, including one interpreted as endorsing statutory rape. Even the most staunch conservative defenders of the First Amendment have limits.
However, loads of Duck Dynasty merchandise popped up after the controversy - making some people assume the controversy was engineered as an attempt to drum up interest.
Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst seemed to know this, so he decided to subvert it with Citizen Kane by giving it no publicity, causing the movie to bomb at the box office.
Mimi Faust of the reality show, Love and Hop Hip, purposely made a sex tape with her boyfriend and even released a trailer promoting it as amateur porn. Just as she hoped for, it caused a negative stir in the media, but became popular with most of the viewing audience. For one, the trailer caused the sale of shower curtains to go up, even selling out in some stores. Why? Because of a scene she did with a shower curtain on the video. And according to pre-order numbers, the sex tape has already made over 400,000 dollars and counting before the official release date.
An Australian eatery named their new (extremely sugary and fattening) dessert 'Diabetes'. Extremely PC and easily offended Moral Guardians had a meltdown, demanding that they change the name. The Facebook post announcing the name exploded, and sure enough, many people commented with something along the lines of "get a sense of humour! Thanks for letting me know this place exists, I've booked a table for tomorrow", some even referencing this trope by name. The restaurant's Facebook page gained at least 200 likes during the furor.note The restaurant briefly pulled the dessert from the menu, then brought it back under a new name after receiving requests for it.
Some political groups, in attempting to demonize their opposition, simply end up giving them free publicity. Especially if the demonizing group is larger and more popular than the opposition in the first place. If the demonizing is extreme enough, the reality may look reasonable by comparison. Sometimes the first group may even lose members, possibly defecting, because they get sick of the slandering.
A number of commentators said this about the fledgling Formula E championship, an all electric top level racing series, after a major accident on the last lap of the first official race. The incident, between Nico Prost and Nick Heidfeld, generated buzz about the series in a way that simply talking about the fact that it was the first all electric motorsports championship never could, though it probably helps that neither driver was hurt in the incident.
Brutally averted with OJ Simpson. Some time after his trial for the murder of his wife, he released a book called "If I Had Done It", recounting among other facts what he says would have done to kill his wife. The public backlash (and the publisher's own distaste of the idea, even going as far as calling it OJ's "confession") completely annihilated any chance of sales and of Simpson's fame from taking off again.