Top 5 Campaigns that Went Wrong

Sometimes, marketers get things wrong. Really wrong. Find out more about the top 5 campaigns that went wrong in our latest blog and learn what to avoid.

Learning from mistakes can be just as beneficial for streamlining campaigns and knowing what to avoid, and so in this blog, we’ve reviewed the top 5 campaigns that went wrong, looking into what happened and how the brands dealt with it.  

Giant Food – Thanksgiving 2020

In 2020, Giant Food, American regional supermarket chain, launched an ad for Thanksgiving. 

The US supermarket shared this festive campaign in November 2020, which promoted sharing platters for those hosting Thanksgiving meals and celebrations with the tagline “Hosting? Plan a Super Spread”. 

Naturally, the campaign was received negatively, as it was launched in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was responsible for killing more than 250,000 people in the US. The real issue here was the tagline, “super spread”, as the term “super spreader” was widely used during the pandemic for an individual or event in which multiple people contracted COVID-19.  

Giant Food apologised, saying that it had no intentions of being insensitive, and it continued to encourage people to practice safe social distancing.  

Innocent – Conker Milk 2019

In 2019, the drinks company, whose marketing activities don’t always play by the rules, released a campaign that was meant as a joke to its thousands of followers. In an effort to promote that Innocent also does vegan drinks, the campaign was centred around the use of conker milk in its drinks.  

The issue here is that consuming conkers can cause paralysis or even death. However, Innocent issued a branded apology and a witty clarification the brand was in fact not releasing the drink. The fallout also gave Innocent further opportunities to interact with customers through sarcastic, playful, and apologetic means, where appropriate, as customers waded in on what was happening.  

Adidas – Boston Marathon Email 2017

In 2017, Adidas sent an email out to all those who had signed up to complete the Boston Marathon, which contained a subject line reading ‘Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!’ 

After the devastation of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, this campaign was highly criticised for being insensitive. 

Adidas issued a public apology recognising its mistake, but due to the brand’s exceptional crisis management techniques, it was able to regain respect from consumers quickly after the crisis. 

Ford – Ford Figo Ad 2013

In an effort to promote the launch of the Ford Figo, the globally renowned manufacturing brand released an advert that showed three well-known figures gagged and crying in the boot of their car. The aim of the campaign was to show the large cargo capacity of the Ford Figo, but the brand definitely took this in the wrong direction. 

This was done at a time where there were various cases of attacks against women, as well as the rise of the “Me Too” movement. Therefore, the ad was met with severe backlash, being branded as offensive and misogynistic.  

In a statement, Ford acknowledged the mistake and called them distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency. It appears that the impact of this campaign did not damage the sales in the target market of India, where the Figo has been gaining significant traffic since its launch in 2011. 

Budweiser – Removing “NO” from the Vocabulary 2015

 To promote the Bud Light beer, Budweiser released a campaign, titled “Up for Whatever”, with the slogan for the campaign being “the perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” 

The whole idea of this campaign was to promote the idea of people saying yes to new things, however, this came across as highly offensive and inappropriate, with consumers suggesting the campaign, in particular the slogan, had negative connotations and undermined the ‘no means no’ anti-rape message.    

Having issued an apology for the mistake, the drinks company ceased printing the slogan on any more bottles. 

Looking to run some advertising campaigns?

Even some of the biggest brands in the industry can get their advertising campaigns wrong, which is why it's important to have experts on hand to put together an effective marketing strategy and campaigns that will deliver results, and not land you in a world of trouble. 

Get in touch with us today to find out more about how our strategy and creative teams can support you with your advertising campaigns, generating impressive results whilst ensuring risks are mitigated.