Running a successful marketing campaign can be tough. You have to ensure that you’re providing the right messaging, engaging the right audience and generating enough interest to help your business increase leads or sales.
There will come a time when a company’s campaign manages to fail. Even some of the largest brands in the world have created marketing failures, and the following are five of the worst advertising fails in history.
With as popular as Nike is, you would think that this company shouldn’t have to market themselves. But they do, and they sometimes fail. In 2008, a video of Kobe Bryant wearing Nike’s Hyperdunk basketball shoes and jumping over an Aston Martin went viral.
Since the video received massive interest, Nike hired design firm Wieden + Kennedy to design a print ad to go along with the video. The ad featured one basketball player getting dunked on by another basketball player. You couldn’t see any faces, but the focal point of the ad had the one player’s groin area in the face of the other player, and directly over the image was the phrase “That ain’t right.” The “that” in the ad was meant to refer to being dunked on, but many people took the ads the wrong way and thought it was a pitch against homosexuality. Nike eventually pulled the ads.
Hacienda is a chain of Mexican restaurants in Indiana. In order to promote their cocktails, the company tried to be humorous with the Jonestown Massacre and created ads that depicted their drinks with phrases such as “To die for” and “We’re like a cult with better Kool-Aid”. These ads were placed on billboards that could be found on high traffic roads and interstates throughout Indiana. After a few complaints, Hacienda removed the advertisements.
Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana has been known to tout some very sexual and very racy ads in order to promote their product line, but in 2007, one ad went a bit too far. The ad was featured in Spain and contained a young woman being held down by a man, and in the background, other men were looking on. Women in Spain were outraged and attacked Dolce & Gabbana for featuring an ad that contained sexual violence. The protest reached the president of Spain, who called the ad “stylized gang rape”, and the ad was removed.
Dolce & Gabbana put up a big fight, and although the ads were taken down, the slammed Spain for being behind the times and not being able to recognize art.
LifeLock is a company that specializes in preventing identity theft by looking for fraudulent credit applications for car loans, mortgages and credit cards. Todd Davis, the CEO of LifeLock, was so sure that the company worked, that he created moving billboards and television commercials that had his real social security number. He even posted his social security number on the company’s website.
Turns out that LifeLock wasn’t as magical as Davis thought, and his identity was stolenat least 13 times Not a great way to get consumers feeling confident about your brand.
Spirit Airlines is somewhat used to getting slammed for tasteless advertisements, but one stands out above the rest. In 2010, shortly after the infamous BP Oil Spill, Spirit Airlines created an ad that featured a woman lying on a beach with the headline “Check out the oil on our beaches.” Many complaints rolled in, and Spirit Airlines eventually pulled the ads.
This article was compiled by the team at Icon ID, click here to learn more about their work.
Image credits in order: Nike, Hacienda, Dolce & Gabbana, LifeLock & Spirit Airlines
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