Are these the most controversial logos in history?

After film director Quentin Tarantino last week called the Confederate flag (right) in the American South the “American swastika” The Drum looks at some of the most controversial logos in recent years including a rather phallic New Zealand tourism logo and a ‘Nazi-like’ symbol from a ferry company.

Northlink Ferries

Scottish ferry company Northlink Ferries came under fire in 2013 after it launched a campaign around fictional character Magnus the Viking, which drew comparison to Hitler and the use of Vikings by the Nazis.

The design, which featured a Viking in full regalia pointing a raised arm towards the horizon, prompted German-based travel operator Britain Travel to urge Northlink to change the logo. The company’s managing director Peter Storm told Deadline News at the time: “The whole figure is associated with Viking propaganda symbols from that period. They need to move away from the Nazi symbolism. NorthLink is not on a crusade or looting expedition and this Viking symbol could upset Germans.”

Dirty Bird

A Welsh fast food chicken shop caused people to spit feathers after customers spotted that the logo was less poultry and more phallic. The Cardiff based fast food van said the identity was based on the lowercase initials ‘d’ and ‘b’ of Dirty Bird, with the loops forming the wings, which were then linked together to create the shape of a rooster.

However, it didn’t exactly help matters when Dirty Bird tweeted out this provocative statement: “We've been talking dirty for way too long in less than 2 days we'll be filling your mouths full of thighs, breasts, legs”.

Kapiti New Zealand

Sticking with the phallic theme when the region of Kapiti in New Zealand decided to create a new logo to promote the area it probably wasn’t expecting the public to call it “mildly pornographic”.

The rebrand polarized opinions and was criticised for being both “lewd” and looking like “the Loch Ness Monster”, while some council members were baffled by the comparisons. “I think the logo honors Kāpiti’s most iconic feature and, as to whether it is lewd in any way, I certainly can’t see it,” Kāpiti Coast district councilor Tony Lester told CNN. “To be honest, I’d be pretty worried about anyone who can”.


FMCG giant Proctor & Gamble was dogged for years over rumours that its original logo featuring a man in the moon with curly hair surrounded by stars was in fact Satan with hidden ‘666’ combinations. P&G had used the logo since its inception in the 1800s but it was in the early 1980s that whispers of connections to the devil began to circulate. P&G decided to drop the curls from the man in the moon and eventually cut the image altogether in favour of the P&G letters in 1991.

However, the supposed Satanic nature of the logo came back to haunt the company in 1995 when rival household product firm Amway began spreading rumours that P&G was donating funds to the Church of Satan. The business successfully sued Amway and won $19m in 2007.

Cleveland Indians

The grinning face of character Chief Wahoo has been the logo of American Major League Baseball team Cleveland Indians since 1940, but has been met with controversy in recent decades by Native Americans who deem the caricature and its nickname racist. The team has long defended the toothy-grinned and triangular-eyed logo and continued to use it despite the criticism, however it did replace the moniker as its primary logo with a block letter capital C taking its place in January 2014.

But despite this move Chief Wahoo remains featured on caps and jersey sleeves and cries for change from Native American are still growing with protests taking place outside the Cleveland Indian Stadium.


When Airbnb revealed its new logo in July 2014 floods of people took to Twitter to air their opinion, and they didn’t hold back. Comparisons ranged from a vagina or scrotum, a similarity to the Automation Anywhere logo and the chin of Family Guy character Peter Griffin.

In a statement issued to The Drum at the time, the co-founder of DesignStudio, the London-based design firm behind the much discussed logo, Ben Wright, defended the redesign. “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, that doesn't worry me in the slightest. This is a bold new transformational brand – something that’s revolutionary. Eventually it will be identified with Airbnb. It represents the community and it's the symbol for belonging.” Seems he was right.

Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments box below.

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