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No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

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"Where else can I get such cheap publicity?"

"The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

As the saying goes, there's "no such thing as bad publicity" or "the only bad publicity is spelling the name wrong". 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 thing's so offensive, and making the work into Forbidden Fruit.

In real life, there is always 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 something that gains popularity because Moral Guardians draw attention to it. Strangely, the Moral Guardians never seem to learn from the fact that they're doing a good job of making their objects of hate more popular, thus, free advertising. On the Internet, it is usually those bad aspects of a product that the producer can never live down that undergo discussion and Memetic Mutation, and thus extra advertising, notoriety and more misconceptions spreading around.

Whether or not the author of the work purposely made it controversial in order to invoke this phenomenon is debatable. Edgy content always has a market, for example, pornography existed in the Victorian era but crossing the streams, i.e. bringing subversive elements into the mainstream, was a huge taboo. Works are Rated M for Money when they target their expected audience and don't cross the line. However, this can backfire if you step on too many toes and often it doesn't mean that the work has more to recommend than the scandal. Sure offending some Moral Guardians draws attention to a work, but thanks to tropes like "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, expect later people to scratch their heads and wonder what the fuss was about. 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 so obsessed with works they claim to hate, people often find out about it from the hatedom 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. This is also related to the concept of hate-watching, where a hatedom actively engages themselves in the works they hate for ironic purposes, seemingly unaware that this is giving the work in question the publicity they don't want it to have.

Also, remember always that controversy can and does have consequences. No matter what your intentions were when you made a work, poor reception and bad publicity affect the context in which people see it, and your work will not be seen how you intend it but instead become a political or topical football. It can directly affect sales via smear campaign, boycotts and distributors not exhibiting your work because of Guilt by Association. In worst cases, controversy has killed careers by making it impossible for you to find people to see your next work, making you unemployable and so on. Also, don't expect critics to stand by you, they may see you as self-indulgent and arrogant and 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. Whether it's Worth It or not, depends on how much you believe Viewers Are Geniuses and your faith in Doing It for the Art.

Compare Attention Whore, Controversy-Proof Image, Fame Through Infamy, Forbidden Fruit, Rated M for Money, Sex Sells, Overshadowed by Controversy, The Man Is Sticking It to the Man. 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. Contrast with Audience-Alienating Premise. The Eight Deadly Words are what people say when even this trope can't be invoked.

A form of Insult Backfire. In some cases, it may also be a Sleeper Hit. Springtime for Hitler is when someone is trying to be hurt by bad publicity but fails for this reason.

Wikipedia has an article on this philosophy, going by the French phrase succès de scandale (success from scandal).


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  • A series of commercials for the (now defunct) 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".
  • NOM tried to invoke this trope when The Colbert Report parodied their anti-gay "A storm is coming" ad as "Homostorm". NOM's response? "Thank you, Stephen, for playing our ad in full on national television — for free." Of course, when the thing in question is quite possibly the funniest advert created in modern times, being presented to the very people who would take it as such (Colbert viewers), it wasn't exactly good publicity either.
  • A 2010 Domino's Pizza campaign has the company admitting their pizza tasted like cardboard so they changed the formula of the sauce and crust.
  • Taken to extremes with an infamous 90's ad campaign for Mila Margarina in Brazil featuring a houseful of nude children playing around. The ad was controversial and short-lived, but also made a lot more people aware of the brand.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Although it was nearly canceled for it, the Pokémon anime first gained popularity internationally after the infamous seizure-inducing episode "Computer Warrior 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 from the backlash early on.
      • On the other hand, some foreign TV affiliates and distributors (like Televix for Latin America) actually picked up the show and dubbed it BECAUSE the Porygon incident made the show popular in the first place.
  • 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.
  • Elfen Lied's notorious R-Rated Opening was one of the (many) reasons why it got a lot of attention. It 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 and Shotacon content.
  • A promo for Magical Suite Prism Nana was yanked from Youtube for a "nudity or sexual content" violation (it showed girls prancing around in bikinis, with a prominent focus on their attributes). Not surprisingly, this became a popular topic and the video showed up on other sites almost immediately.
  • Pop Team Epic can be considered to be one of the most polarizing anime adaptations of all time. It, much like the infamous Teen Titans Go!!, has plenty of haters that will stop at nothing to explain to a viewer or fan why their enjoyment of the series is wrong and how their taste in anime is trash because of liking it. That didn't stop the series from becoming critically acclaimed by various anime reviewers for being radically different from the norm and becoming so successful that not only is there going to be a special continuing the series despite the intense disdain but has a loyal following from both anime fans and people that don't watch anime.
  • King of Prism got a lot of buzz from Pretty Series veterans due to the Hotter and Sexier elements added into what is typically a young girl's franchise. To wit, one of the tickets for the first film shows the cast sitting around naked. However, the buzz from the fanservice, coupled with several eyewitness accounts of the movie helped propel the series into the mainstream. Masakazu Hishida even said he invoked this reaction in an interview, mentioning that the team added in the fanservice scenes so people could have something to talk about.
  • The anime adaptation of The Rising of the Shield Hero stirred up a lot of controversy when its premise, an Otaku who was sent to a parallel world seeking revenge on a woman who falsely accused him of rape, made the rounds. Many reviewers accused it of being sexist otaku wish fulfillment, not helped by the fact that it's an isekai anime, and some hated it so much that they named it among the worst anime of not just its season, but of 2019. All this fuss lead to the series getting an enormous amount of attention from anime fans, casual and hardcore alike, and it reportedly became the most continuously-viewed anime of 2019. Additionally, the series spawned some of the most viral anime memes of the year, and, in a rare move, it was announced that it would be getting two additional seasons rather than one.
  • The anime adaptation of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! was immediately met with outcry online over the titular lead's character design, with her combination of a rounded, doll-like face and gigantic boobs being met with accusations of sexism and female objectification, among others. However, this same outcry gave the series a gigantic boost in popularity from more hardcore anime fans, leading it to become one of the most prominent and popular anime of summer 2020, heights that most analysts (including those who supported the show) pointed out would never have been achieved otherwise.
  • Ah... and Mm... Are All She Says contains an In-Universe example. In Chapter 16, the publisher's executives discuss the potential fallout of allowing hentai manga from an underaged person to be published in their hentai magazine X+C for a whole year. The owner wants to keep the entire thing from the public eye as much as possible, but their head of sales opposes, suggesting they should capitalize on the publicity and publish their first Tankoubon ASAP, especially when their works can potentially appeal beyond the average hentai reader.
  • An In-Universe example in Booty Royale: Never Go Down Without a Fight! when Hara Akira's manager Mizutani Yuki directs her to seduce protagonist Haebaru Misora in order to create a lesbianism gimmick to gin up scandal-rag publicity about their new idol trio Japan KGB (Yokuta Beruko being the third member). It works a little too well: Mizutani accidentally helps set the manga's Official Couple up with each other.
  • Akane-banashi: In-Universe example. After expulsing all six applicants of the shin'uchi promotion exam, Issho Arakawa found himself at the center of a massive controversy. However, it also drew a lot interest to his rakugo. His sheer talent managed to make his former critics defend his actions, noting that if someone as talented as Issho expulsed them, the applicants must have deserved it.

  • 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.
  • By now, you surely already know that Charlie Sheen got booed during his first presentation of his comedy show. How did you find out Charlie Sheen had a comedy show?

    Comic Books 
  • 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-universe example 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.
  • DC's Ian Sattlet on the universal reaction to Lian Harper's death in 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.
  • The group One Million Moms attacked Archie Comics and Marvel Comics due to an issue of Life With Archie: The Married Life and Astonishing X-Men, respectively, having gay marriages. Life of Archie subsequently sold out and Marvel was more than willing to soak up the free publicity.
  • 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 involves falsifying accounts and sending the Psycho for Hire Barracuda to anyone who figured him out so that he could 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.
  • Jawbreakers: Lost Souls was intended to be just a short one-shot comic that the author wanted to put out so that he could write the story he wanted to without interference and industry regulations. After receiving a MASSIVE backlash from several prominent members of the comic industry due to the comic's connection to the Comicsgate movement, the Indiegogo campaign went on to earn several times what the creator had originally expected and became an overnight success.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: invoked Seen in universe in "The Autobiography." Bolt is not happy about the fanciful and inaccurate way he's portrayed in fanfiction that features him, so he tries to dictate his autobiography into Penny's computer using a speech program to set the record straight — but when he does so, it just comes out as barks and woofs. Mittens tells him not to worry about it, saying the fanfiction will probably just enhance his reputation.
    Bolt: What am I gonna do now? How can I get the truth out there? I need to set the record straight, darn it! My reputation with future generations is at stake here.
    Mittens: Y’know what? Look at it this way. Maybe a healthy dose of spice and legend will actually enhance your reputation. Fame is three-quarters hooey anyway, and suckers on the Internet really lap up this kind of stuff, like kittens lap up a bowl of cream.
  • An in-universe example occurs in the Splatoon fanfic Her Fractured Spirit. The Squid Sister's controversially titled song "Ink Me Up" led to a lot of publicity. It helped boost their career.
  • This occurred in-universe in Mirrors. Blondie was involved in a school scandal that caused her show to spike in viewership.
  • The infamous Fan Verse of The Loud House dubbed Sin Kids AU gained notoriety thanks to its concept of Lincoln impregnating all ten of his sisters. This, combined with attempts to crackdown on the incestuous content, all but made it one of the most popular AUs in the fandom.

    Films — Animated 
  • After a news story where the trailer was accidentally screened before a showing of Finding Dory, Sausage Party attracted many curious patrons who wanted to see just how raunchy an adult animated movie written by Seth Rogen could be.
  • According to Shigeru Miyamoto himself, the large amount of negative critiques to The Super Mario Bros. Movie actually helped promote the movie and make it the roaring box office success it is, topping many records and making it the highest-grossing movie based in a videogame of all times.

    Films — Live-Action 

In-Universe Examples

  • The Funhouse Massacre: Two park employees are walking about the haunted houses, when one of them wonders if it might be in poor taste to base them on the exploits of In-Universe real-life Serial Killers. The other fires back that doing so has only made it get talked about that much more.
  • Akira Kurosawa's Scandal: The sleazy publisher of a sleazy gossip rag is pretty excited about the prospect of getting sued for slander in court, and says this word-for-word (in the subtitles at least).
  • Sex and the Single Girl: The boss of reporter Bob Weston is genuinely proud that his family's magazine, STOP, has gone from a respectable publication to a tabloid that's reviled by all of their peers — its sales have gone through the roof when they started venturing in the lurid tabloid business.
  • Dolemite Is My Name: Rudy Ray Moore is thrilled at reviews of Dolemite calling the film "coarse, rude, crude, and vulgar". Moore tells his co-workers that such a review will make people curious to see just how coarse, crude, and vulgar the film is. Sure enough, when they arrive at the film premiere, the first showing is sold out, and there’s a line down the block to see the next one.
  • 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.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
    Commodore James Norrington: You are without doubt the worst pirate I've ever heard of!
    Jack Sparrow: But you have heard of me.

Real Life Examples

  • Basic Instinct: People were protesting in the streets because Sharon Stone uncrosses her legs. It is really the only reason why the film is known, and the so-called controversy helped it along.
  • The Passion of the Christ was a huge hit for four reasons:
    • 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.
    • The media couldn't shut up over the controversy over the film's ultra-violence.
    • The additional boost of publicity given after a number of Mel Gibson's antisemitic rants.
    • The trope being invoked in France. Mel Gibson persuaded local newspapers to print an article about how the film was "too hot for France!" even though French cinemas had been very interested in carrying the film since its announcement.
  • Some movies that have been attacked by the Church became popular enough to be considered a blockbuster.
    • Duel in the Sun a highly sexualized western melodrama by King Vidor, produced by David O. Selznick was mockingly called "Lust in the Dust" by Catholic groups, which naturally led to a huge number of Catholics to see the film.
    • The Outlaw was held up from release for five years solely because of a woman's cleavage. Of course, because of the controversy, it was a huge success when the film was finally released and made Jane Russell a star. This also influenced producer Howard Hughes to recreate the success of The Outlaw by making racy films, then have his employees pose as Moral Guardians to actively encourage people to boycott them.
    • The most egregious example would be El Crimen del Padre Amaro, a Mexican film (based on a book by Portuguese writer Eça de Queirós) about a Catholic priest who falls in love with a girl and decides to ignore his vows of celibacy, which actually turned overnight from a small, low-profile film into a massive blockbuster! 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 Chilean Catholic Church tried to avoid this with El bosque de Karadima, based on the true story of Fernando Karadima, a priest who for decades abused male adolescents. The church gave strict orders not to comment on the film, hoping that the lack of controversy would make the film go unnoticed. It did not work, as the film attracted more than 300,000 viewers, making it the most successful Chilean film of 2015.
  • The Last Temptation of Christ was intended to be a thoughtful 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 conservative Christians protested, generating the film a lot of publicity and a by-word for controversial religious artworks (second only to The Satanic Verses) but contrary to popular belief, very poor box-office sales.
  • 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 its 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.
  • 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 filmmakers 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.
  • Michael Moore's works:
    • Fahrenheit 9/11: Michael Moore even begged the protestors to keep doing it on The Daily Show.
    • In Sicko, the owner of an 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 up the irony.
  • "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.
  • 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, Redacted barely 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 (2011) — 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 the story deviating greatly from The Bible which as Aronofsky puts it, "the least biblical Biblical 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.
  • When various religious groups began to organize protests of his new film Dogma, Kevin Smith was devious enough to join one of the protests. And ended up getting interviewed about it by a reporter who didn't know who he was. Rather than clarify things, he stayed in character and denounced the film for its sacrilegious content. See for yourself.
  • An interesting case concerning The Interview. The film would have probably flown under the radar had it been about anything or anyone else. However, because it was about the comedic assassination of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, it managed to piss off North Korea, leading to Sony being hacked and releasing a bunch of e-mail. Now everyone, even the President of the United States, wants the film released, but Sony, licking its wounds, had refused to. Though now apparently they are going for a limited release, on the original release date. note 
  • American Sniper received a lot of flak from critics who accused the film of being propaganda for the military and glorifying its subject matter (Chris Kyle and the war in Iraq), with others also accusing the film of being anti-Muslim as well. Still didn't stop it from having the highest opening weekend in January - a whopping $89 million - and eventually becoming the highest-grossing film (in terms of domestic receipts) of 2014. Though considering the film was successful before the critical noises came out, it's debatable what effect the bad publicity had on the film.
  • One time when a movie studio actually tried to Invoke the trope (with rather poor taste) was in the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, after the author of a true-crime book on the Family inadvertently coined the term "Snuff Film" under the later debunked theory that the killers had recorded some of their movies. American producers brought the low-budget Argentinian exploitation horror film Slaughter (based loosely on the Manson killings) over to America they, retitled it Snuff, gave it a new and even gorier ending, and launched a viral campaign that someone had actually been murdered on film as part of the movie. They even put out false newspaper clippings that reported a citizens group's crusading against the film and hired people to act as protesters to picket screenings. It was all blatant false advertising in an attempt to get people to watch what was an already-bad slasher movie, and it got very bad publicity, which only helped add fuel to a growing Urban Legend that real snuff films existed.
  • The Falcon and the Snowman is a minor example. Although Googling it does turn up quite a few results and it was a well-received movie when it initially came out, many contemporary audiences have learned of the film because of it falling victim to the Captain Midnight broadcast hijack. The perpetrator, whose alias the incident is named after, was fed up with the then-new practices of premium content providers (HBO in this case) scrambling their signals and not only requiring expensive descramblers to view them but also a monthly fee on top of it. Because the perpetrator ran a satellite business of his own and it was causing damage to it, he blocked the signal out of frustration with an on-screen message in protest using the equipment he already had at his engineering job. He just so happened to be performing this intrusion during a showing of this movie, and because broadcast intrusions are such a rarity and pieces of history in their own right, much of the modern publicity this movie gets is due to this exact incident.
  • Cloud Atlas: In-universe. Dermott Hodgins throws a pompous literary critic who blasted his autobiographical novel over a balcony to his death, following which his book's sales shoot through the roof.
  • The anti-nuclear documentary If You Love This Planet got an outright obscene boost in interest and popularity when the Reagan Administration labelled a movie by the National Film Board of Canada as "foreign political propaganda" and tried to have it suppressed. The film's director Terre Nash even thanked the U.S. Department of Justice for the free press when the film won the 1982 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). Remember, Ronald Reagan doesn't want you to watch it so don't you dare follow this link!
  • Anytime Lars von Trier made a movie and premiered at Cannes Film Festival, it would bring all kinds of press on his provocative antics and contents of his works. The most recent example is when The House That Jack Built screened at Cannes Film Festival 2018, it caused a mass walkout and standing ovations at the end. Later, all the one-night theatrical screenings of Unrated Director's Cut were sold out quickly and made even more publicity when MPAA nearly sanctioned IFC for "violating" their rules.
  • Captain Marvel (2019) was the subject of much fervor from anti-SJW types during the lead-up to its release, due to star Brie Larson's comments about the lack of diversity in film criticism, as well as the feminist themes in the film's trailers, which led them to assume that the film was going to be a feminist (and by "feminist" they actually meant "anti-male") propaganda. This, of course, only served to draw further attention to the film, which ended up clearing a billion dollars at the box office.
    • A year earlier, these same groups loudly resisted Black Panther, which was not helped by conspiracy theories about white audiences being violently attacked by black audiences in the theaters for daring to see "their movie." It ended up also making over a billion dollars.
  • The anti-feminist blog The Return of the Kings published an article calling for a boycott of the film Mad Max: Fury Road considering it "feminist propaganda" (based on trailers only). This had a huge impact on the media, mainly to make fun of how stupid the idea was. Later the same blog published another article thanking the free publicity because that way "more people would realize how Hollywood is contaminated by feminism." Ironically, this can be considered a subversion, since the boycott call caused many people, including many women, to pay attention to Fury Road, which has been considered one of the most feminist films of all time. The fact that this box office hit then won a slew of Academy Awards drove the point home at how much the sexist smearing backfired.
  • Despite winning the Golden Lion award at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, Joker (2019) received some negative publicity and media fears that it would inspire ideologically-motivated shootings. This led Warner Bros. to bar journalists from attending the red carpet premiere, and police forces watched over a number of high-profile theaters that screened the film's premiere for security. That constant media drama only served to increase interest among moviegoers to see what riled up the media so badly, and the movie ended up making more than $96 million on the opening weekend, making its budget back instantly and breaking some box office records for the month of October.
  • Universal attempted to do this with The Hunt, a politically-charged take-off on The Most Dangerous Game. In August 2019, the film was shelved after the trailer came out, largely due to backlash over the film's premise as a result of some recent high-profile shootings. The trailer also received hostile reactions from the right-wing and Donald Trump (though he didn't mention the film by name when he brought it up) because they perceived the film to be a glorification of violence against conservatives (which the filmmakers have denied), with Trump going so far as to call the filmmakers "racists." Six months later, the film was rescheduled for March 2020, with a new advertising campaign focusing squarely on the backlash; however, the film ended up being rushed onto VOD due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • HBO didn't think their documentary Going Clear, which was critical of Scientology, would attract many viewers. Then the Church of Scientology started an ad campaign against it. It later became the second-most-watched HBO documentary of the decade.
    “When I saw my name in a full-page ad in The New York Times, I knew. Docs don’t get full-page ads, and when they do, they do really well.”
  • Despite calls to cancel Netflix and the company's stock taking a hit, Cuties quickly became one of the most-watched movies on the service after being bolstered by controversy over its alleged sexualization of minors (the film actually opposes such things, but Netflix's initial previews and description made it seem like it glorified them).
  • In-universe in The Wolf of Wall Street. When Jordan Belfort complains about a magazine story about his stock brokerage being a hit job, his wife uses these exact words. The next day his company is flooded with job applicants.
  • This was the intent behind a mobile ad for The Nun, which tricked viewers into raising their volume before hitting them with a Screamer Prank. After people inevitably complained, the ad was pulled and replaced by a new one claiming that the original ad could not be shown due to being too scary.
  • When the first Jack Ass film was released, a tv spot gladly showcased all the negative and harsh reviews after the film came out. Regardless of the critical reception, the film made back its budget and was a nominal success. Then a few years after, they more or less did the same thing for the trailer for “Number Two”, with the extra punchline of showing that they still managed to produce a sequel. It more or less seems to be a given for the franchise in general, since the exact same thing happened with the original show on MTV. After Senator Joe Lieberman publicly denounced the show and its influence on children, it, you guessed it, helped it become even more of a ratings hit than it already was.
  • The French film Vaincre ou Mourir has been largely panned by most of the French press, very often for political reasons since it's about a phase of The French Revolution that a) is seldom talked about and has a sort of taboo from the Republic around it (for it was the bloodiest repression the First French Republic carried out during the Reign of Terror) and b) has become a rallying point for many modern French royalists/reactionaries (the history-themed Puy du Fou theme park, which produced it, is one of the most prominent vehicles on that subject) who tend to stick to incorrectly referring to the massacres as a "genocide" (something the film mercifully avoids). The creators fully expected the bashing, since it also meant mainstream press talked about it period, giving it free publicity.

  • Many of Abby Hoffman's works, but especially Steal This Book, for teaching and advocating theft. It even provides the name for Steal This Index.
  • 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 was 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.
  • Harry Potter owes a small percentage of its success to the Moral Guardians who can't shut up about how it's corrupting children, though this controversy came much later in the day.
    • 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. Remarkable, as the book itself is not a good read; when it was force-fed to the population, almost no one read it. (Possibly the reverse effect of this trope.)
  • 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.
  • Chilean writer Isabel Allende once said something to the effect of (paraphrasing) "My books have been banned by several parent associations and Christian groups, and thanks to them, their sales have increased."
  • His Dark Materials tried this and failed. The author, Philip Pullman, wanted the series to offend lots of people, but the Moral Guardians were too busy criticizing Harry Potter. To quote:
    "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 revelation 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. Regardless, many people bought copies of the novel afterward, if only to defy Khomeini and show support for Rushdie dealing with this threat.
    • 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 Catcher in the Rye. If it weren't for all the censorship over the swear words, teenage prostitution, and teen drinking, it would not have sold so well, nor would it have found its way into the required reading curriculum. Mark David Chapman holding a copy as he killed John Lennon didn't hurt either.
  • 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? The 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 cunning 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 (which was only the tip of the iceberg). 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). Over a decade later, some people who heard of the book via the plagiarism scandal will still try to get their hands on it to see what all the fuss was about.
  • While The Twilight Saga 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, 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 because 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 (more than Harry Potter!) and is printed in 37 countries. It owes all this to its controversial nature as well as the massive Hate Dom it spawned. Several groups have problems with the content. Reviewers criticize the poor writing style, BDSM practitioners dislike it for getting their fetishes wrong, feminists say it normalizes abusive relationships, and conservatives dislike the explicit sex. It got so much hate, TV Tropes had to lock both the main page and YMMV page.
  • Budding author Jacqueline Howett, author of The 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 going 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.
  • Sherman Alexie has frequently had his YA book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, pulled from school libraries and reading curriculums... and each time sales of the book skyrocket. After one such incident in an Idaho school district (which resulted in pro-literacy groups handing out copies of the book for free), Alexie attended a reading-and-conversation seminar in Boise and said the following.
    Alexie: When books get banned, I get a lot of tweets and emails and letters from people concerned that I am disturbed or hurt. I'm not. When my books get banned, I sell so many; the exact opposite thing the banners want.
  • Invoked in-universe in "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish" in Cloud Atlas. The titular protagonist runs a vanity publishing firm, and agrees to publish a smalltime gangster's autobiographical novel, which is universally agreed to be completely dreadful and unsaleable; then the book suddenly becomes a runaway hit when the gangster makes headlines by publicly throwing a critic from a rooftop for writing him a bad review.
  • Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, felt this way about a dust-up between him and Moral Guardians who felt like his popular children's books (Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, etc.,) were little more than literary junk food who would turn kids off reading "better" books (this has since been proven untrue). When asked if he was upset that the Newark Public Library refused to stock his books, he said he was fine with it; if kids couldn't rent the books from a library, they were more likely to buy them from stores, and his sales in Newark more than tripled.
  • When Scarlett Lewis, whose son was one of the children murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting, wrote Nurturing, Healing Love, a book about recovering from a tragic event, numerous conspiracy theorists who believed the shooting was a hoax swarmed the Amazon page in an attempt to discredit her, giving the book one-star reviews and accusing her of lying and scamming. This ultimately backfired though, as once news of this reached social media, hundreds of people came to counteract the negativity with positive reviews and raised the book's popularity and sales.
  • When the Medved brothers wrote The Fifty Worst Movies of All Time at the back end of The '70s, they made sure to include some trolling picks because the uproar could bring them attention back when Accentuate the Negative wasn't as popular. Thus along with schlock such as Robot Monster there were several better-regarded (if, even in their day, divisive) titles that eventually made the Great Movies List (Last Year at Marienbad, Ivan the Terrible, and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) and one recent release they regretted putting in, The Omen.
  • When the lawyers of the Donald Trump administration issued a cease and desist to Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury: Inside the Donald Trump White House, the publishers announced that the book would be released four days early, and the book's preorders shot up to the top of Amazon's bestselling books list.
  • An In-Universe example from Paradise Lost; Michael shows Adam a vision of a descendant of his who will form an empire in the hopes of making his name famous, regardless of whether he be famous for good or evil. Michael goes out of his way to avoid saying his name, but context makes it clear that the descendant is Nimrod, the character who tried to build the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis.
  • Michael Ian Black's Dr. Seuss parody A Child's First Book of Donald Trump provoked an angry response from the alt-right when it was released, with anti-Semitic comments reared at Black on Twitter (including a rather grotesque picture of Donald Trump putting Black in the gas chambers). Black naturally saw an opportunity and began retweeting these alt-right attacks to drum up more publicity for the book. Not surprisingly, it became a New York Times bestseller.
  • Even if you haven't heard of Christina Dodd's medieval romance novel Castles In The Air, you've probably heard of the cover, which is infamous for accidentally giving its heroine three arms. Dodd took it in stride and embraced her status as The Author Of The Three-Armed Woman Book—the anatomical oops made it stand out among a sea of other romance novels, and it's still in print today (not bad for a book published in 1993), albeit with a different, less funny cover.
  • In-Universe in Neil Gaiman's short story "The Thing About Cassandra": the narrator is an artist whose show at a gallery is "interrupted" by a woman who walks in shouting about how offensive his paintings are. She then throws a bottle of ink on one before being hustled out. It later transpires that the gallery owners hired her to do this in the hope of ginning up some attention for the narrator.
  • The historical fantasy novel The Mermaid portrays P.T. Barnum In-Universe as a firm believer in this trope. Some years ago he was exposed as a fraud for trying to pass off an elderly slave as George Washington's 160-year-old nanny, but he regrets nothing, not even charging admission so the public could watch her autopsy.
    Barnum thought all publicity was good publicity, and even if folks thought he was a con artist, then at least they knew the name of Barnum.

    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 canceled. It sent the ratings soaring and only spurred the writers to be all more outlandish with their plots. The show itself made reference to her efforts in one episode featuring a television show made about the Bundys' lives, which got immediately canceled because "some woman in Michigan didn't like it".
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps, Doctor Who, or any other series deemed too "scary" for children, despite many actually being ''written'' for children.
  • Father Ted provides an in-universe example. 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. "Down with this sort of thing!" "Careful now!"
    • "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.
  • Jerry Springer is fond of mentioning that according to TV Guide, he has the worst show on television. After all, it's a Guilty Pleasure.
  • Gossip Girl used negative reviews in billboard ads, generally criticizing it for being excessively sleazy, all accompanied by fetish stills. Unsurprisingly, the stills are racier than anything in the show. The show uses this In-Universe with the line "You're nobody until you're talked about."
  • 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 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 the effect, "No matter what channel you're watching, you just can't help but hear about the Snuggie!"
  • The X Factor fell into this territory — as this link proves. Despite an ongoing Ofcom investigation and pressure from the Moral Guardians, it's not stopped the publicity hype machine and Bile Fascination.
  • 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 Hung, a 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. It's a well-known fact that the producers would deliberately let horrible singers pass during the prescreening phase in order to display their "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. Considering many people only watch the Idol auditions just for the bad ones, it works.
  • 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.
  • The Glee episode "Bad Reputation" features 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 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 favorite 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. In 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, but he also doesn't care what people think of his frozen pizza reviews on YouTube, as long as they're talking about them.
  • Invoked in-universe in Halt and Catch Fire.
    • In "Close to the Metal", Joe has a journalist friend write an article about the new Cardiff Electric PC; however, Cameron loses her work on the BIOS just before she completes it. The journalist is intrigued and relishes in the chaos. It is later revealed that Joe had engineered the crisis in the first place.
    • In "The 214s", Cardiff Electric is shut down by the FBI for an embezzlement scandal against SVP John Bosworth. When Joe was ready to walk out on Cardiff Electric, Gordon convinces him that the controversy surrounding Cardiff Electric can be seen as an asset, helping them stand out against the likes of IBM, Microsoft, and Apple at COMDEX.
    • In season two, Joe is unjustly accused of infecting WestNet with a computer worm which caused millions of dollars worth of damage and the subsequent scandal caused the CEO of a billion-dollar oil company to resign. Unable to prove his innocence, Joe instead embraces the notoriety and starts a company producing anti-virus software based on the premise that the person who can develop a computer virus is the one best suited in developing software that can protect you from it. Investors agree and Joe gets millions in startup capital.
    • Subverted in season 4, when Cameron, frustrated that her publisher refuses to release her newest game, tries to get around them by leaking the game to the press. This ends up backfiring, as the critics rip it to shreds and mock her for her pretensions of still being a "rebel".
  • Also invoked in-universe in the Mad Men Season 1 episode "Marriage of Figaro" when the execs are looking at a new Volkswagen ad.
    Don: Love it or hate it, the fact is, we've been talking about it for the last 15 minutes.
  • My Kitchen Rules has garnered a lot of derision from both viewers and entertainment journalists, who find the unlikable personalities of many contestants and the excessive drama absolutely cringe-worthy. Their Facebook page's comment sections are often filled with complaints about the show's fakery and threats of boycott, and recap articles (especially from the Sydney Morning Herald) are full of snark. This only seems to attract Bile Fascination from a lot of the populace, and the show consistently places #1 in terms of viewer number ratings.
  • Criminal Minds had an in-universe example in the episode "The Performer." The Villain of the Week is the manager of a rock singer who is revealed to have been killing people, with the aid of a Loony Fan, in ways that reference the singer's new album in hopes of cashing in on this trope. The singer himself had no idea what was going on.
  • Happens In-Universe in Million Yen Women. Shin's latest novel initially gets public attention thanks to the help from one of his housemates. However, that attention leads the press to find out about his father being a murderer and his living situation that belongs to the Harem Genre, which results in a sales boost. This continues with two of his housemates getting killed days apart.
  • Apparently, the badly-researched "Fur and Loathing" episode of CSI caused some people to find out about the fandom in the first place and joined it as a result.
  • In Louis Theroux's documentary America's Most Hated Family in Crisis, he talks to a few members of the Westboro Baptist Church who were inspired to join after watching his previous documentaries about them. Louis makes the obvious point that he was extremely critical of the church, but the followers see themselves as having seeing through Louis' supposed propaganda.
  • A subversion was the case of the Chilean sitcom Vivir al Día, from 1998, which addressed many topics that were then taboo in Chilean society, such as homosexuality, abortion, or drug use. The creators expected a reaction from the moral guardians, but in reality, the show was watched by very few people and caused no controversy.
  • When The Muppet Show was added to Disney+, there was outcry over the show because it contained a content warning on certain episodes, leading many conservatives and "anti-wokers" to denounce Disney for "cancelling" the Muppets. However, the addition of the show turned out to be a major success for the platform, to the point where the service actually crashed from too many people trying to watch it.
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was the butt of many Sickeningly Sweet jokes from The Simpsons, David Letterman, and MAD, among others. The showrunners loved such ribbing because it only made people want to watch the show even more.
  • Happens in-universe on The Golden Girls. Blanche's sister Charmaine writes a steamy romance novel — Vixen: The Story of a Woman — and gifts Blanche a free copy. Blanche reads the book but is offended when she thinks its slutty heroine is based on her. She goes to Charmaine's book signing, tells her off, and loudly decries the book as being full of sex, lies, and unadulterated smut. Suddenly everyone at the bookstore storms the table for a copy.note 
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt had an in-universe case. Jacqueline, being the daughter of Sioux, is offended by the Washington Redskins and want them to change their name. Once she sees Native Americans burn Redskins jerseys, she gets an idea to ultimately convince the NFL owners: if a minority was already purchasing expensive merchandise only to burn it in protest, a name that could offend a larger group of people would bring in lots of money! Hence all the teams change their names to things like Gun Takers, Vaccinators, Interracial Marriagers, and Raisins That You Think Are Chocolate Chips.

  • Many forms of popular music in the 20th century were largely built on controversy. Ragtime, blues, jazz, swing, rock and roll, and its 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 Dealey Plaza, 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 making masturbating gestures on stage.
  • AC/DC owes their rise to accusations of Satanism on account of their songs like "Highway To Hell"
  • 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 Destiny's 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.
    • The deaths of the two rappers also increased their sales, with both having albums that went Diamond as a direct result.
  • 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 artists 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 guessed it, "Area Codes".
  • Eminem's enormous popularity was fueled by the number 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. To Em's credit, he toned down the misogyny and homophobia later in his career, even coming out as supporting gay rights.
  • 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.
  • The Scorpions' album Virgin Killer, infamous for its cover art containing an artistically nude 10-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!
  • 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 '90s, 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. Manson's considerable decline in shock value was spoofed in The Onion in this 2001 article.
  • "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 of his popularity to his obsessive Hate Dom. 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.
  • 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.
    • You can argue that it was the lack of bad publicity that ultimately proved to help 1D. When they first took off in 2012, most people assumed that the group was a flash-in-the-pan act would have faded back into obscurity by no later than the end of 2013, with the inevitable hype backlash set to kill them faster than it could ever do to Bieber. In a surprising twist of events, most of Bieber's hatedom chose to continue having him in their line of fire rather than switch over to the brand new targets. With that, 1D would roar through 2012 with a nearly unscathed public image, cannibalizing Bieber Fever as rapidly as Facebook did away with MySpace, with the public and media actually pulling their support behind them if only to wipe Bieber away once and for all. By the end of 2013, One Direction was more popular than ever and as massively popular, if not more so, as Bieber was at his peak, whereas the latter's career was on life support.
  • Michael Jackson, in The '80s, 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" from Dangerous, 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 '90s 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.
    • Michael's sister Janet Jackson also received international attention after the Nipplegate incident in 2004, where her naked breast was accidentally revealed during a Superbowl broadcast and it caused a lot of controversy... and higher album sales as a result.
  • 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 their record sales doubled soon after Tipper Gore did her rant about how the band's initials supposedly stood for "We Are Sexual Perverts"note .
    • 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. As Aerosmith won an MTV VMA, Steven Tyler made sure in the speech to "Thank Tipper and Jesse for making sure that as long as there are a few four-letter words, they'll sell an extra million records."
  • 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 liberties with 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. (In the case of the Rutles, what was actually said was they were bigger than Rod, who would become famous later.
  • 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!" note 
    • Mary Whitehouse successfully campaigned to keep him from performing "School's Out" on Top of the Pops. Cooper responded by sending her a thank-you note and bouquet of flowers, as he believed the controversy helped the song hit number one on the charts.
  • Britney Spears has run the gauntlet on bad press, hyper-visual controversies, media overexposure, Moral Guardians getting moody with her, image issues, mental health problems, and negative backlash. Although she has been under conservatorship since 2008, she has continued to perform in Vegas and make albums.
  • Though completely unintentional, Jennifer Hudson got a ton of publicity after her mother, brother, and nephew were 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" from Body Count is 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. She later made a switch to a more mature and softer image starting with the 2017 single "Malibu".
  • Fall Out Boy's song “I Don't Care” is about this.
    I don't care what you think
    As long as it's about me...
  • Pussy Riot was little more than an obscure Russian punk rock band with a few political motivations that nobody in the west had ever heard of, up until the Russian government made such a big stink about their protest and convicted two members on "hooliganism" charges (for what most western legal experts would have defined as trespassing) and suspicious Russian hate sites targeting them with rather absurd accusations started to pop up. Almost overnight, the treatment of this obscure group became the focus of a global outcry, and opinion of the Russian government's policies started a downhill slide. (Which only got worse with the current crisis in Ukraine.)
  • 2 Live Crew wasn't much to write home about when their career started, at least not until a Florida sheriff made shutting them down a huge priority for his administration. Predictably, they blew up.
  • The Buoys' record label contract did not include promotion, so the band had to search for other ways to find a hit single. In came songwriter Rupert Holmes, who suggested the band deliberately invoke this trope and record a song that would be banned from the radio, thus making the public want to hear it more. He wrote for them "Timothy", a very catchy song about cannibalism. Sure enough, the gamble worked out perfectly; their record label attempted to backtrack the bans by saying the titular "Timothy" wasn't a human, but a donkey, but Holmes refused to play along with the charade, especially given the bans only made people buy the single more.
  • Vince Staples's song "Norf Norf" gained a lot of attention after a video of an angry Christian mother ranting about (a censored version of) the song being played on the radio went viral, spawning many Voice Clip Songs. Said mom ranted about the song by reciting all of its lyrics, profanities and all, while her kids were around. Needless to say, people quickly checked out the song to see why it drove her to actual tears, and discovered that the song isn't anywhere close to being another boastful rap song about material wealth — rather, the graphic language and imagery featured in the song are used to build atmosphere and tell a story. Surprisingly, Staples actually went out and defended the mother who made the video, saying he respected her views on the song, and that her clear misunderstanding of its intent didn't warrant all the backlash she was receiving.
  • Rino Sashihara from AKB48 took a hit in her career when an ex-boyfriend leaked intimate details about their relationship and sex life to the media, which affected her popularity (especially due to the group's Contractual Purity and no-dating rule to preserve the image of being "attainable" to their male fans) and caused her to be transferred to a sister group, HKT48. However, the scandal actually made her more popular than before. She was later ranked first in the yearly line-up election and consistently ranks high in popularity polls today. On one variety show, she even (sarcastically) thanked the tabloids for running the story for bringing her newfound popularity.
  • Rather infamously, R. Kelly experienced an increase in album sales and music streams following the release of Surviving R. Kelly, a documentary detailing all of Kelly's past sex crimes.
  • Invoked by Gene Simmons in the April 1996 issue of Guitar Magazine:
    GENE: "There's no such thing as bad press, there's only press. If you don't get press, that's bad."
  • When "Follow Your Arrow" by Kacey Musgraves debuted at the 2013 Country Radio Seminar, it quickly caught controversies for its progressive lyrics, causing it to fail at country radio. The general public, especially the more tolerant pop and Adult Alternative listeners, caught wind of the controversy and embraced it wholeheartedly, made it debut at #10 on the US Country Songs chart.
  • Rihanna's "We Found Love" music video's controversy of being denied filming due to the owner of the location displeased with Rihanna appearing topless only helped increase its viewership... in the UK.
  • The music video of Childish Gambino's This Is America became viral on the internet due to its violence and bizarre allegories, and also because of the advice to not make memes out of it only fueling further meme-making.
  • Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's "WAP" earned a whole lot of free publicity after a bunch of prominent conservative Moral Guardians publicly whined over its sexual content, which also occurred when they performed said song at the 2021 Grammys. Cardi herself said she didn’t care about their complaints because the more they complained about them, the more the video (and performance) was given more exposure and got watched on YouTube.
  • Lil Nas X has benefitted quite nicely from controversies surrounding the content of his work, though from varying degrees of objectionability.
  • The Who wouldn't have acquired a new generation of fans by the mid-2000s had it been for every Caustic Critic and their mother bashing a Limp Bizkit cover of "Behind Blue Eyes" as one of the "worst covers ever."
  • Tony Secunda, the first manager for The Move, was a big believer in this. In their early live shows, the band demolished cars and TVs onstage. Secunda also had them wear gangster outfits. While it helped that the band was hugely talented and had a brilliant songwriter in Roy Wood, the PR from these antics made for good copy. Ultimately, though, Secunda averted this trope. Big time. For the band's single "Flowers in the Rain", Secunda circulated a promo postcard with a cartoon depicting then-PM Harold Wilson in bed with his secretary (they were rumored to be having an affair at the time). Wilson was not amused. He was so not amused that he placed the band under MI 5 surveillance and filed a libel suit against them. Wilson won the suit and the band not only had to pay all legal costs but also had to donate royalties from the single to charity. The worst part was that the band themselves had nothing to do with Secunda's stunt and didn't even know about it. Needless to say, they found a new manager after that.
  • The sentimental 1956 romantic ballad "St. Therese of the Roses", in which the singer talks about praying to the saint to make his upcoming marriage succeed, had several recorded versions in American and Britain, with Welsh crooner Malcolm Vaughn doing one of the UK takes. He'd been scheduled to perform the song on BBC television, but a few days prior, a BBC committee canceled the appearance, judging the song to be "contrary both to Roman Catholic doctrine and to Protestant sentiment." The news surrounding the controversy propelled Vaughn's version to #3 on the British charts, and it ultimately sold a half-million copies in the country.
  • Czech child singer Misha, AKA Mishovy Šílenosti, recorded some songs about popular video games, which attracted tons of hate due to their repetitive lyrics. The result? "Pokémon GO Song", his most infamous song, hit 97 million views, and he received a Silver Play Button award (100000 subscribers) shortly after. He even made songs inspired by the hatedom, which surpassed 10 million views each, and songs such as "I'M VEGAN!!! DIE, MEAT-EATERS!!!" and "DONALD TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT!!!" which are deliberately meant to provoke people.
  • Van Halen became infamous for their "no brown M&Ms" clause in their contract riders that they would punish venues with by way of backstage damages if the backstage area did not have a bowl of M&Ms that specifically excluded brown M&Ms (as a Secret Test to make sure that the venue had followed the contract properly, including various procedures that ensure the safety of the band members, staff, and audience; if the backstage had brown M&Ms in the bowl or no M&Ms at all, it was a warning that other parts of the contract may have been ignored and someone could be injured or killed during the performance if it were carried out). In a video interview with David Lee Roth, he explains that he chose not to clarify the rumors of Van Halen being a bunch of egotistical divas for years because, "Who am I to get in the way of a good rumor?"

    Print Media 
  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated awards and rankings, particularly the annual 500, exist mainly to get people talking. The criteria for who is eligible and how they rank is very vague (though a few veteran readers have managed to find some patterns) and often deliberately against conventional schools of thought in order to get people who disagree with it to vote on the end of the year awards. After TNA's Knockout Division inspired them to split women wrestlers off into a top 50 list, wound up generating even more hate mail over the years, because it is short enough for more people to read all the way through and excludes serves as an opportunity to exclude even more wrestlers fans care about despite being made to include more. A common argument is that women should have just gotten more consideration for the 500 rather than trying than adding another fifty spots after an already lengthy list, but PWI had tried that. The extension consistently made people talk more after the shock of women breaking the 500's glass ceiling wore off, so goal achieved.
  • An American teen magazine called Datebook limped along in obscurity in 1966, until they published the John Lennon Bigger Than Jesus interview. They ended up selling a million copies of that particular issue.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • 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. In the end, all the talk was for naught, since the company went under less than two years after Russo's initial hiring.
  • 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 occasions, 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 more intense 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.
  • This seems to be WWE's mantra when it comes to Roman Reigns. No matter how much the crowd boos and insults him, they continue to push him as a forced, cookie-cutter babyface and have all but stated in interviews that as long as Roman is getting a reaction, they're going to keep doing what they're doing with him.

  • 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.
  • Orson Welles was convinced that the controversy over his 1938 adaptation of The War of the Worlds would kill his career, but instead it turned him into a household name and drew the attention of Hollywood.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons is one of the classic examples. When the Moral Guardians claimed the game had connections to teen suicide and the occult, D&D was splashed all over the media — and the number of players went from thousands to millions. The 1980s was both a high point for the controversy AND for the game's sales.

    Video Games 
  • In-universe 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.
  • Bayonetta's past voice actress, Hellena Taylor, tried to stir up controversy around Bayonetta 3 due to being recast over wage disputes. This just led to more people hearing about the game, and increasing the amount of pre-orders.
  • Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, a game infamous for being pre-alpha and having the lowest score for a game on Metacritic sold 20,000 copies.
    • The same group of developers then tried the same stunt with The War Z, a blatant attempt at cashing in on DayZ.
  • Call of Duty has a ton of hatedom 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.
  • Inversion: Majesco exploited the frenzy surrounding PETA's Darker and Edgier Cooking Mama rip-off, Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals, 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.
  • This happened when Koei Tecmo decided not to release Dead Or Alive XTreme 3 in the US, both due to fear of low sales figures and, according to Sony president Shuhei Yoshida, due to "cultural differences in the depiction of women." Play-Asia hopped on that one and proudly put the English-Asia version for sale up on their website. Because of the bleating from disgruntled Trolls threatening to "never shop on that site again" and even thinly-veiled threats against the business and its employees, Play-Asia also recieved massive support from both fans of the series and people against what they considered to be censorship. Once the smoke had cleared, Play-Asia reported that they had their highest pre-order record ever with the release of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 and a massive bump up to around 12,000 followers on Twitter.
  • 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.
  • 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 then-unnamed and yet-to-be-shown The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. 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.
  • 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.
  • Dragon's Crown's art style caused controversy in Western countries because the art style is almost offensively Fanservicey. Likewise, this provided all sorts of free advertisement, and the game's artist George Kamitami responded to the offense over the scantily-clad female characters by drawing some scantily-clad male characters.
  • Electronic Arts is infamous for generating controversy for their games. So much so that Extra Credits eventually called them out on it.
    • At E3 2009, a group of Christians showed up to protest Dante's Inferno, Electronic Arts' then-upcoming God of War clone set in Hell — or so we thought. Days later, it turned out to have been staged by a Viral Marketing agency who hired 20 people to pretend to be angry Christians to exploit this trope for all its worth. Actual Christians were not amused.
    • Dead Space 2's "Your Mom Hates This" ad campaign, which proudly and shamelessly combines this with Rated M for Money by showing five moms clips from the game and recording their shocked reactions.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Fire Emblem Fates: Despite the massive controversy in regards to the games' American localization and the divisiveness of the game as a whole, the game still managed to sell 300,000 copies during its opening weekend, making it the fastest-selling game in Fire Emblem history. Ironically, the massive controversy surrounding its localization probably gave it even more awareness to the general public that isn't as concerned over the various disputed elements.
  • In August 2019, people in a videogame convention in Shanghai, China, smashed a PlayStation 4 in protest, because Sony was advertising the Chinese game Genshin Impact, which has many similarities to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, claiming that game is a blatant rip-off and Sony should not be promoting it, but as soon as that news spread, people found out about the game, started to get interested in it, even people who played Breath of the Wild, and while some people said that the game really was a rip-off, others were nicer, praised the game and pointed the stuff that made the game more original and different from Zelda.
  • Hogwarts Legacy was hit hard by a large number of people calling for boycotts as well as a coordinated bullying campaign against streamers who played "that wizard game" based either upon association with JK Rowling, who has become an incredibly controversial figure due to her outspoken transphobianote  or its plot including House Elves and putting down a Goblin rebellion, as the franchise's portrayal of these species has been accused of racism. And yet despite this, preorders for the game soared - at one point being the bestselling game on Steam and the Playstation 5 while the number two best selling game on the Xbox.
  • 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 (by Valve Software founder Gabe Newell himself, no less, along with an apology), it later became the number one seller on Steam Greenlight.
  • HuniePop could've easily passed under the radar if it weren't for a number of negative reviews from reviewers who objected to the game's concept (including one negative mention by one journalist who admitted to having never actually played the game.) This, combined with an article declaring that an uncensored patch that was released violated Steam's Terms of Service (it didn't) and an attempted smear campaign directed at the developer got the game enough attention that it rocketed up to #7 on the sales list shortly after and was met with a lot of praise from those who bought it.
  • Mass Effect 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.
  • Edmund McMillen, the creator of Meat Boy, intentionally made sockpuppet accounts on the PETA forums to endorse Super Meat Boy, the game's console sequel. 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.
  • 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.
  • Pokémon is no stranger to controversy, but still manages to be a Killer App with each mainline release:
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield received an outpouring of backlash after it was revealed that much of the National Dex would be cut.note  This caused fans to more closely analyze the game's perceived flaws, such as its graphics (which were considered weaker than most Switch games) and removed features. The backlash only got more intense when the game was leaked two weeks before release, revealing that the game would be cutting certain moves as well, among other features. Despite the incredibly vocal hatedom, the game sold remarkably well, becoming the Switch's fastest-selling game before Animal Crossing: New Horizons took its crown.
    • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet got hit quite hard with negative publicity due to how broken and unoptimized the games were upon release. You couldn't go anywhere on the internet without people posting screenshots and video clips of the game's choppy frame rate, the textures in the landscape that looked tiled, characters stretching to bizarre proportions like noodles, or Pokemon falling through the ground during battles. The bugs were presented in such a negative light that many fans swore off the franchise entirely, citing Scarlet and Violet being the last straw among the many issues they had with the developers Game Freak over the years. Despite the issues, the games sold several million copies within the first week of launch. Some people enjoyed the games in spite of the bugs and others have never see said bugs during their game time.
  • 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 and later referenced in the Early Access trailer for Postal 4: No Regerts (which also proudly displayed some of its abysmal review scores on the Steam page).
  • CNN ran a story about the hentai game Rapelay, making people who have never heard of the game 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sniper: Path of Vengeance, a little-known cruddy game with an amusing lot of Good Bad Bugs, rocketed to the 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.
  • One particular North American ad for the first Splatoon became infamous for utilizing an original song featuring the repetitive lyrics "You're a kid now! You're a squid now!". Many people started criticizing it online, and the quote quickly became a meme. The line is now a staple joke in the community that sees continued use by fans and Nintendo alike, years after the ad had run its course, thanks to its Narm Charm.
  • Star Trek Online had a mission, "House Pegh", bring back a minor Klingon NPC and introduce her mate, who was also female. Many players never caught on until one player, who was also a volunteer moderator on the game's main forums, blasted Cryptic for having lesbians in the game, going through a Think of the Children! mentality. After the players told the person to shove it, some of them lauded Cryptic for the handling of the characters, focusing more on who they were than what they were (which, as a game set in the 25th century, it should be.)
  • 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 III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Manhunt all received boosts in sales from the controversy their violent content generated but got even more after they were accused of inspiring copy cat crimes.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on the other hand, encountered mixed 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 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 overreactednote , they decided they needed something else to complain about, so they got angry at the game's option of kissing other boys.
  • Another In-universe example: In The World Ends with You, Eiji Oji runs a blog called "F Everything" that gets 100,000 hits per day. Subverted in that the "F" actually stands for "Fabulous," making his blog the exact opposite of what you most likely thought it was about.

    Visual Novels 
  • Katawa Shoujo became infamous for being a dating sim by members of 4chan where all of the girls are disabled in some way (such as missing limbs, blindness/deafness, and disfiguring burn scars.) The name even roughly translates to "Cripple Girls" in English. It then became even more famous for, despite its pedigree, showing a surprising amount of taste and respect for its subject matter, to the point that it's now considered a Gateway Series into the Visual Novel genre.
  • Shining Song Starnova kicks off Julie’s route with an in-universe example. When blurry pictures of Julie Going Commando during a live performance end up all over the news, the resulting controversy ends up driving sales of Starnova’s latest CD through the roof, leading the president of their record label to suggest that Starnova capitalize on the controversy by taking themselves in a more risqué direction.

    Web Animation 
  • Also discussed at Zero Punctuation during a retrospective on Daikatana and John Romeros antics during development (including his infamous ...gonna make you his bitch, marketing campaign). Yathzee noting that this trope only works if the product itself is actually good (or at least So Bad, It's Good), neither of which Daikatana was. Hence why the game is now mainly remembered as a joke and Romero himself as a sod who let his ego grow way out of control.
  • Cocomelon came under controversy when a former teacher discovered that the show was so fast-paced and has too much going on at once that it overstimulates kids, causing them to become addicted to the show. Despite this, the channel is still one of YouTube's most popular.

    Web Comics 
  • 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 .
  • 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 (such as 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 a back-and-forth between Thompson and PA (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.
    • Paul Christoforo very firmly believes in this trope. After being a complete prick to a customer and Mike, only backing down and apologizing after figuring out who Mike is, he seems to think that he's going to spin a career out of this. And that's just the tip of the iceberg...
  • Discussed in Freefall by Sam Starfall. Since members of his species are either sterile or non-sapient breeders who die after spawning, their only legacy is their reputation. Sam is thrilled to be known across the planet as an incorrigible thief, rogue, and scam artist because it means he's relatively famous.
  • 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 a fair bit of backlash a little over halfway through its run. Some 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, it did nothing but spread the blog's notoriety.
  • Fox tries to take advantage of this in this strip of Curtailed. While running around a job fair in your boxers will definitely get you noticed, somehow we don't think it will help your job opportunities all that much.
  • In El Goonish Shive, a zero star review of Susan's player character by a quest giver NPC results in her in-game fame and requests to participate in side quests to go up.

    Web Original 
  • Parodied by the Babylon Bee. In this article, the Republicans thank the Democrats in advance for all the free publicity they'll get during the SCOTUS nomination of Amy Coney Barrett when they start hounding a conservative working mother.
    "We are prepared to be even more obnoxious than we were during the Kavanaugh hearings, if that's what it takes," said Senator Kamala Harris.

    Web Videos 
  • Discussed in-universe in The Nostalgia Critic editorial "Why Is Nothing Original Anymore", comparing The Smurfs and Melancholia, saying how even though you're pissed off at the former, management banks on you still having more of a connection to it than the latter.
    • The Critic's portrayal of Casper appears to believe in this, as he gets angry when the Critic eventually deems his live-action movie to be So Okay, It's Average, rather than going full Caustic Critic on it.
      Casper: That's it! I'm tired of leaving no lasting impact on the creative media!
    • The Critic wanted to avert this in The Matrix review series because the villains wanted him to utterly slam the sequels.
      Stranger: No! You must hate them! You must hate them so much that people have to see them!
    • Interestingly enough, Tamara mentioned that they profit from making Matrix fans so enraged that they watch the reviews multiple times in the Mamma Mia! review.
    • He expressed shame for bringing attention to Food Fight, right before expressing glee over how many views the review will get.
      Critic: Everybody should be ashamed for even acknowledging it exists. I feel like Beelzebub's ballsack just for drawing attention to it!
    • Mentioned in the Jurassic World review to complain about Hollywood taking some of their videos down.
      Mr. Puppy: I mean, even your reviews of bad movies have led to higher sales due to your exposure!
    • In the editorial on trailers, discussing the Ghostbusters (2016) one, he doesn't specifically mention the "raped my childhood" people, but he alludes to them when he tells them they're so angry about it they'll go see it anyway.
    • During the Sibling Rivalry for Ghostbusters (2016), Rob claimed that the film would have come and gone if not for the controversy, also noting that plenty of hated movies are forgotten like Jem and the Holograms (2015).
  • Lampshaded in CollegeHumor's "You're a Mean One, Mr. Trump", their parody of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", when the singer stops the song to point out that this song is just going to bring more attention to Donald Trump, and starts to ask if they're doing more harm than good.
  • Played for Laughs in The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of Life of Black Tiger when it's revealed the game's programmer Fred Fucks was banking on the Nerd's bad review of the game attracting more people to play it rather than discouraging them:
    Nerd: It's horrible and I need to warn the public not to play it!
    Fred: Too late for that, Nerd! Now that you've covered it, more people will buy it! And at $10 a pop times a few million copies, I can buy all the rare and erotic animal feces I want!
    Nerd: "Erotic?!" Don't you mean "Exotic?"
    Fred: I know what I said!
  • Examined in H.Bomberguy's video "WOKE BRANDS", where he points out that whenever there's calls on social media to boycott a particular company or brand for their practices, the resulting publicity inevitably means that brand is given attention.
  • Used In-Universe in the Sam & Mickey video "Awards Show". After Barbie hijacks the In Memoriam segment at the titular show with a clip from one of her pornos as vengeance for not getting nominated, the host outright states that the only reason she doesn't plan on banning Barbie for life is because of all the press the incident is getting.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head got it pretty hard during its first year or so on the air. Things became so bad, in fact, that MTV had to add a disclaimer at the beginning of every episode to remind viewers that Beavis and Butt-Head aren't real and that you shouldn't try what they do at home.
  • In Bojack Horseman, Diane investigates the mysterious death of Matt Minnowman, an employee of Whitewhale Consolidated Interests. She brings a hidden camera to a meeting with CEO Jeremiah Whitewhale, who says he doesn't know what kind of film they're making, but it doesn't matter. He freely admits to having the employee murdered, and says he wants the story to get out, since it would only show how ruthlessly effective he is as a businessman, thereby enriching him further. Diane wonders why he isn't worried about the video getting leaked, and he informs her that Congress just passed a law making it legal to murder if you're rich.
  • Family Guy set themselves up to make out from 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 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.
  • 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 two articles. 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.
    • Likewise, Filly Funtasia definitely would've remained unknown for the longest time if Equestria Daily didn't report on the show three times, starting in October 2013. 4chan certainly helped with its popularity as well.
  • The DVD for the first season of Dan Vs. proudly displays a blurb from a Moral Guardians group review of the show warning parents not to let their kids watch the show.
  • 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.
    • Speaking of which, the show itself generated an enormous amount of controversy when it premiered, due to its more adult tone and, particularly, the character of Bart Simpson - who was deemed a bad influence on children. Needless to say, this just contributed to the show's runaway success.
  • In the Season 4 premiere episode of The Boondocks, Pretty Boy Flizzy, a parody of Chris Brown, explains this trope to Tom DuBois, after Tom found out he staged the convenient robbery story and most of his other criminal actions, except the Christianna (Rihanna) beating. He explains that his only fanbase are women who like his bad boy image, because women hate men who are "boring".
  • SheZow got the best free publicity possible when the far-right One Million Moms attacked it as promoting a "gay transvestite agenda."
    • The same thing happened when they complained about three episodes of The Loud House: "Overnight Success", in which we learn that Clyde has two dads; "Potty Mouth", in which the children believe they accidentally taught Lily to swear; and "L Is For Love", which ends by showing the viewers that Luna has a crush on a girl named Sam. The show, which was already popular to begin with, had the fanbase grow as a result of these episodes.
    • When they complained about and failed to get The Owl House banned for alleged Satanism and LGBT themes, it only made people more curious to see what all the fuss is about. The fanbase exploded in growth after the Enchanting Grom Fright episode, where Luz's friend Amity is shown to have a crush on her, and the show remains one of Disney's biggest hits.
  • Popetown was supposedly "Father Ted meets South Park"; characters included an infantile Pope and cardinals involved with slavery. Success varied from country to country – in its native UK it didn't even make it on air.
    • MTV Germany broadcast the series in 2006, shortly after Easter, and added fuel to the fire with an ad in which Jesus had come down from the cross to laugh at the show (without actually saying anything about Popetown itself). This sparked a major debate, with many people demanding that it be banned for blasphemy and others pointing at press freedom. (Some of the defenders also pointed out that some of the accusers had themselves defended the Muhammad cartoons – some of which were much worse – a few weeks earlier, and that most of them had presumably only seen the ad instead of the actual show.) The first episode subsequently achieved the highest ratings ever for MTV, but viewers soon found that Popetown was really nothing special and it quickly fell into obscurity again.
  • Teen Titans Go! has earned a reputation as being one of the most hated cartoons in recent history...and yet it's one of Cartoon Network's highest-rated and biggest money-making shows partly because of this.
  • In-Universe during the Bob's Burgers in "Sacred Cow". When a Straw Vegetarian named Randy is filming a documentary about Bob being a cow murderer for being a burger chef, it actually boosts the restaurant's popularity. Linda even points it out.
    Linda: It's the best free advertising we ever had!
  • In 2020, PAW Patrol suffered from negative publicity after Chase, who is a police dog, created controversy because of the social media accounts going dark to honor George Floyd. Despite this, the show still remains popular.
  • When VeggieTales aired on qubo, it was controversial among parent groups because the version they aired cut out all references to God to make it secular. However, the show was qubo's second highest-rated show after 3-2-1 Penguins! and LarryBoy Stories and would run for an additional season.
  • Moral Guardians tried to cancel The Owl House before it even premiered, feeling that the show's setting in the Eldritch Location that is the Boiling Isles was demonic in nature. The controversy ended up getting it more views, and it's still a rather popular show. They made another attempt to cancel the show after it was revealed that Luz would get a same-sex Love Interest, leading to yet another spike in popularity.
    • Similarly, The Cuphead Show! came under fire by Brazilian parents when a priest uploaded a video reprimanding the show after he saw his daughter watching it on Netflix and the scene where the Devil sings his Villain Song from the first episode came up. While there are some people who indeed took him seriously and tried to get the show cancelled (because they think it portrays the Devil as the good guy, which is completely wrong), more often than not this just resulted in more people gaining interest on the cartoon, as well as the original videogame.
  • Velma is, Statistically Speaking, the lowest rated cartoon show of all time. Surprisingly it's also one of the most watched programs on its streaming service - beating out The Last of Us (2023).
  • Baymax! got a load of free publicity after several right-wing media personalities made outraged comments, including a particularly viral tweet, about there being a transgender man shown buying menstrual products. This caught the attention of many people who were previously unaware of the series' existence, or just weren't interested in a Slice of Life Disney show... but were interested in seeing an unambiguously trans character, especially in a wholesome Disney property.

    Real Life 
  • Older Than Feudalism:
    • Roman historian Livy wrote that the consul Marcus Manlius Capitolinus (died 384 BC) "preferred notoriety to respectability".
    • Herostratus was a man, who in 356 BC, set fire to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, solely because he wanted to be remembered. The Ephesian authorities not only executed him, but attempted to condemn him to a legacy of obscurity by erasing his name from all their records, and making it a crime to mention his name on penalty of death. It didn't work out.
    • 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 for word of mouth and flyers. Eventually, however, a white editor of a major newspaper got hold 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.)
  • Inverted by painter Salvador Dalí, who once said: "What matters is that people talk about me, even if it's good!"
  • Take any bad review, whether it's in a newspaper, a radio show, a TV show, on a website, on a forum, or in an Internet review. No matter how much the critics torpedo the product in question into the ground they often attract more curiosity from their audience to actually go out and check it out, even purchase it, than actually leading people away from it. This may sound awesome, but at the same time the audience sends out a signal to those companies to bring out more similar half-assed crap, just because the people will still come and check it out. Every time again!
  • 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 Beyoncé'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.
  • 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.
  • Anna Chapman, the Russian spy who lived in Britain, who was a well-known example of The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, seems to be heading this way. Now she's heading into Memetic Mutation status, and possibly Pop-Cultural Osmosis.
  • The No Cussing Club had a lot of publicity, but because of all the hate mail and Anonymous attacks, it got even more. Now the founder boasts not giving up and even writes books and makes DVDs about his club, despite having (supposedly) been the most cyberbullied kid in the world at the time the organization had notoriety, which he proudly boasts on the front cover of his (dated) book.
  • Those who subscribe to the "She outed herself" theory of the Traci Lords underage porn scandal (which includes pretty much every 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 aforementioned Ashley Madison has pulled this stunt.
  • PETA. If they're not trying to turn children against their parents with nightmarish pamphlets 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 Batman Gambit respectively as stated above, while Nintendo simply issued a response saying that PETA overanalyzed the Tanooki Suitnote  (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, telling them to cut it out and responding with "Nintendo takes its intellectual property seriously." This did not stop PETA from creating a sequel game, not more than a year later.
    • PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk even admitted that the organization was "complete press sluts."
  • In politics, this is known as "shifting the Overton Window". Political positions that are "unthinkable" become more accepted by being discussed in the media.
  • In April 2012, the National Organization for Marriage (NOMnote ) began a boycott of Starbucks for its company statement affirming approval of same-sex marriage, the main issue NOM opposes. It seems to have backfired. This was parodied by a Huffington Post article in which Microsoft and Apple request a similar boycott.
  • 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 publicly) 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.)
  • Officials from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a.k.a. the Mormon Church, have flat-out admitted that this is part of the reason why they don't do a whole lot to protest media that mocks their church, such as The Book of Mormon musical or the South Park episode "All About Mormons". While said media might not portray the church in a flattering light, it DOES get people curious, and a number of them investigate the church further as a result. Some Mormon missionaries are even using The Book of Mormon to their advantage, handing out copies of the actual Book of Mormon as "souvenirs" at showings of the musical.
  • The UK courts 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 were assumed to be people who hadn't heard about the site until it was reported in the news, while some others were visitors who were 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 Chick-fil-A, a chicken-based fast-food chain, made a comment on the radio stating that he believed in "the Biblical definition" of 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 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 Chick-fil-A restaurant to show the CEO their support. Some cities are also banning the fast-food chain from setting up shop 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, and the chain has moved up from the 7th most popular fast-food chain to the 3rd most popular.
  • The Garbage Pail Kids trading cards that were popular in The '80s. 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 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 have 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; aside from making homophobic comments (which Robertson's conservative defenders dwelled more on), it also included a statement interpreted as endorsing statutory rape (it should be noted that he wasn't), and another saying that African-Americans were much better off without the Civil Rights Movement. 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 about this phenomenon, so he decided to defy it with Citizen Kane. Instead of denouncing the film he just gave it no coverage at all, causing it 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'. Moral Guardians had a meltdown, demanding that they change the name. The Facebook post announcing the name exploded. The restaurant's Facebook page gained at least 200 likes during the furor.note 
    • A similar thing happened a few months afterward with a burger restaurant in New South Wales. A post was made on their Facebook page mocking a vegan customer, which, like the 'Diabetes' post from the above story, promptly exploded. Offended vegans left negative reviews on the Facebook page and Trip Advisor (most of the Trip Advisor reviews have since been removed), some even sending the owner death threats. As many consider vegans to be fair game, people flocked to the Facebook page to watch it all unfold and support the owners, resulting in the page gaining more than 1,000 new likes. A few news sites posting articles on the protest gave the restaurant even more exposure. According to the owner, business increased significantly in the months after the incident, and it has remained popular since then. Many of the new and existing customers left sarcastic comments thanking the protesters for giving the place publicity.
  • 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.
  • French humorist Dieudonné M'bala hit this hard when his shows started to verge towards antisemitism, along with him being openly friendly with the negationist side of the French far-right (including journalist and author Alain Soral, considered one of the leaders of antisemitism in Europe). Things stayed calm until the government intervened to censor him, with (then) prime minister Manuel Valls launching a full-blown legal war against him. A head of government chose to focus on a single humorist instead of ruling the country did wonders for Dieudonné's publicity, with several people admitting they were looking him up just because the Prime Minister hated him.
  • It would appear that while Keemstar, infamous for "Drama Alert" and "The Federation of Asshole Gamers" (abbreviated to F@G), has come under fire for downright falsifying stories, bullying people to the point that they have to outright resign from their work, being racist, abusive, homophobic, and so on, it sadly hasn't so much as dented his subscriber numbers.
    • However, he did lose a bunch of subscribers after a group of famous YouTubers such as GradeAUnderA and iDubbbz began to publicly call him out for his actions.
  • Katie Hopkins has basically managed to make a career out of offending people, then getting paid to appear on TV and 'defend' her generally insane viewpoint. She has been reported to the police on grounds of racial hatred numerous times but never prosecuted. However, she eventually ran out of media outlets that were willing to employ her and is now mostly working for an obscure Canadian far-right-wing website.
    • This is a tactic known as "rage-farming": posting inflammatory Insane Troll Logic to rile people up and get them to post replies amounting to "holy fuck get a load of this shit you're a disgusting piece of garbage", driving engagement and using the momentum to prop up less ridiculous but still wrong ideas. ChrisO_wiki has a good tactic for debunking such posts:
      If rage-farmers make you angry enough to retweet them, they're winning. To avoid this, don't 'like' or retweet what they're saying. That will just boost it algorithmically and spread it further.
      If you must quote it, screenshot it, don't retweet. Ideally, don't quote it at all but just describe it in the most general terms, as I'm doing here. Don't name the individuals making the claims. Rage-farmers are looking for the oxygen of publicity. Don't provide them with it.
  • In 2011, a group called One Million Moms protested against an issue of Archie Comics' Life with Archie in which one of the characters, a gay man, married his partner. End result? The issue selling out in record time and copies being sold higher on eBay. When they caught wind of what Marvel Comics was doing in an issue of Astonishing X-Men, they did the same. Marvel's response? "Please, keep protesting."
  • Professional Boxers:
    • Muhammad Ali, even back when he was known as Cassius Clay, partly built his boxing career off of the heat he attracted through his constant boasts of being the greatest, mockery of his opponents, and membership in the Nation of Islam. He cited the classic heel Gorgeous George as an inspiration and said that he was happy to be booed as he entered the ring: he didn't care if you loved him or hated him, as long as you bought a seat.
    • Floyd Mayweather Jr. started out as "Pretty Boy", a very good technical boxer. After gaining fame, Floyd noticed that he had a lot of critics and decided to use them to his advantage. He left boxing for over a year and came back as "Money" Mayweather - a cocky, bragging, personality that flashed his money and taunted his detractors about being undefeated. The result was Floyd making the biggest paydays in the history of sports itself. This was mainly because most people who went to the arenas and ordered his fights on PPV (Paid Per View), did so in hopes of seeing him lose. After he won, the critics picked another hope to beat him and the cycle continued. It all came to a head when many of his detractors believed Manny Pacquiao was the guy to beat him and that Floyd was afraid to fight him. After a 5-year wait, because of negotiations failing twice, the fight happened. Floyd won and earned over 300 million dollars for the fight. He was named the highest-paid sports athlete 3 years in a row by Forbes Magazine and won a countless number of boxing awards throughout his career. Floyd picked an easy fight in Andre Berto, afterward, which only made 400K PPV buys and retired undefeated in 2015.
  • In 2015, a fitness supplement company called Protein World launched a billboard ad campaign in the United Kingdom that showed supermodel Renee Somerfield in a bikini with the tagline "Are you beach body ready?" The ads were immediately attacked by feminists who accused Protein World of "body-shaming." Rather than apologizing and removing the ads, Protein World used Twitter to mock their feminist critics by saying things like "Your insecurities are not our problem." This enraged the feminists even more, but a lot of people praised Protein World for standing their ground and not giving into the "cry-bullies." In the end, Protein World reported that the controversy resulted in a significant boost in sales.
  • A quote attributed to C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup: "There are two kinds of programming languages: those everybody bitches about and those nobody uses."
  • Sure, Pewdiepie's less than okay gags & reactions, particularly his infamous Fiverr experiment, lost him quite a few sponsorships and earned him plenty of media scrutiny, but as far as his subscriber numbers go, he's still going strong.
  • Ditto with JonTron. While he made comments that can easily be interpreted as extremely racist, his next video after the massive controversy is easily the most popular (although it's also because Flex Tape was also hilarious).
  • Logan and Jake Paul have stood in the Internet spotlight for their wild and outrageous Jackass-style stunts and egotistical Jerkass personas that held questionable reputations of them, but still let them succeed. Even the former's highly condemned Aokigahara suicide forest vlog, which everyone can agree ruined Logan's reputation and business relations, earned him more subscribers.
  • This is why destroying products doesn't work as a protest. Case in point: in 2017, Keurig withdrew sponsorship of conservative pundit Sean Hannity for defending Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore who was accused of making unwanted sexual advances towards underage teenagers. Hannity's supporters responded by destroying their Keurig coffee makers out of spite. The "destroy Keurig" campaign was ridiculed since Keurig had already taken the protestors' money and they only screwed themselves over for destroying property that they could've used or pawned. Then there are some people who went so far as to buy Keurig coffee machines just to destroy them.
  • It's safe to say that teenage environmentalist Greta Thunberg would never have become the new face in the fight against climate change if it weren't for the far-right harassing her on social media.
  • The London district of Sidcup got a lot of attention after it was brought up that the UK version of Dasani was just purified water from the area.
  • In December 2019, wedding-planner company Zola had an ad campaign featuring various same-sex weddings pulled from the Hallmark Channel after a protest by One Million Moms, which they rather pathetically tried to claim was due to violating a rule about public displays of affection, despite leaving in the two ads from the campaign that featured straight couples.note  Zola promptly declared it was ceasing its partnership with the network entirely, and facing down a boycott right in its busiest time in December, plus critics of the channel calling them hypocrites due to the head of the channel admitted that gay representation on Hallmark was not out of the question, the network quickly put the ads back, but not before Zola's sales began to skyrocket thanks to the controversy alone, with one marketing person telling the Chicago Tribune: "This is Christmas [sales] times 100!"
  • Defied by Juan Flynn, a witness for the prosecution at the Manson trials. He was an actor, and defense attorney Irving Kanarek (infamous for his Unconventional Courtroom Tactics) attempted to discredit him by pointing out that there was a lot of publicity surrounding the case that he could use to further his own career. Flynn bluntly stated that it was the kind of publicity he didn't want.
  • The story of Vitaly Borker, proprietor of DecorMyEyes, an eyeglasses store. Once upon a time, he snapped at one of his customers, resulting in them leaving a negative review. To his surprise, that negative review actually boosted his Google Search, so he makes sure to try and harass a couple customers every month just to keep his shop at the top of search list while staying just below the threshold of getting banned. It worked, but the sheer number of traumatized customers over the years finally got him charged and imprisoned.
  • Inverted by Gerald Ratner, the owner of the UK high street jewellery shop chain Ratners. At a speech for the Institute of Directors in 1991, he made disparaging remarks about the products sold in his stores, calling them "total crap" and saying a pair of earrings they sold was "cheaper than a prawn sandwich but probably wouldn't last as long". The value of the company dropped by £500m, and ended up having to rebrand completely within a couple of years. To this day executives damaging the reputation of their own companies are sometimes described as having a "Ratner moment" or "doing a Ratner".
  • The deep-fried Mars bar began life as a novelty item available at a vanishingly-small number of fast-food eateries in Scotland. A number of media reports sought to make it emblematic of the population’s notoriously poor dietary habits, but the coverage increased interest in the dish and it is now available in most chip shops.
  • Dream quickly gained popularity through his "Minecraft Manhunt" series, in which he would attempt to speedrun Minecraft while several other content creators hunted him down. One run of version 1.16 was however removed from in mid-2020 after moderators came to the conclusion that the game had been manipulated in order to give Dream optimal drop rates for Blaze Rods and Ender Pearls. The whole fiasco barely made a dent on his immense and prolific fanbase, and in fact boosted it: by the end of March 2021, he had passed 20 million subscribers.
  • Some fitness influencers on social media have been accused of using fake weights to pull off heavy lifts in their videos, but this usually doesn't seem to hurt them financially. On one hand a significant number of viewers are going to love it because they think the lift is real, but the disbelievers and haters will also end up helping the accused faker when the algorithm picks up on all their views and (negative) comments. Furthermore, the flood of response/speculation videos from other content creators basically gives them a Colbert Bump, as all the fans of those creators go to check out the accused person's channel to see what all the fuss is about. An example of the whole phenomenon is that after Jeff Cavaliere (ATHLEAN-X) was the subject of a fake weights controversy, his subscriber count on YouTube actually grew instead of shrinking.
  • During the 2022 Oscars, Chris Rock commented on Jada Pinkett Smith's baldness (caused by alopecia), joking that she'd be starring in a sequel to G.I. Jane. Her husband Will Smith came up on stage and slapped Rock in the face. While this did have the unfortunate effect of overshadowing every other event that night and ruining what was arguably the biggest night of Will's career (as he won Best Actor for King Richard), that year's Oscars pulled in a total of 16 million viewers, a 60% increase from last year's 10 million viewers, and ensured that the Oscars were talked by everyone. The Slap also led to Rock's stand-up shows selling out, forcing Rock to clarify at the start of each show that he's not ready to talk about it yet. Also, regardless of your opinion of the joke itself, many have noted that it likely would have been forgotten much sooner had it not been for the slap.
  • Rebecca Martinson, the Maryland sorority president who wrote the Deranged Sorority Girl email, publicly embraced her notoriety and used it to secure a few writing gigs, including an advice column, where she took on a persona of being The Lad-ette.
  • At a time when Fanwork Ban was the norm, Gene Roddenberry enthusiastically supported Fanfic. Most creators at the time viewed the homemade zines and their sometimes raunchy content as a Shoddy Knockoff Product that was giving them a bad reputation. Roddenberry? Nah. Being a Dirty Old Man, he cheerfully embraced the stuff and considered it the kind of word of mouth advertising money couldn't buy. As a result, many fanfic tropes and terms can trace their ancestry back to the starship Enterprise.
  • One Bite Pizza reviews did a review of Dragon Pizza. All was well and good until the owner came out and started cursing him out and got into a whole hilarious argument. Even though despite the fact he was giving him free advertising and him chasing away potential customers with his piss poor attitude supposedly he still got pretty decent business out of it. He later did post a message outside he doesnt really want to talk about it though. Regardless at least it did give him a boost.


Video Example(s):


You Take It, And You Own It

After the newspapers try to smear the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign by calling them "Perverts", Mark has the idea to turn the insult on it's head and use the publicity to organise the "Pits and Perverts" benefit concert.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AppropriatedAppellation

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