Hilarious Marketing Fails That'll Make You Feel Better About Yourself

Indrani Sengupta
No matter how poorly your day goes today, at least you're not the social media staff member/advertising consultant/celebrity endorser who mucked up these marketing campaigns. Or maybe you are. In which case, you made it into one of our articles! Congrats, we guess!

1. DiGiorno's Context Fail

DiGiorno Pizza’s social media staff may want to be a tad more careful next time before piggybacking upon a trending hashtag. Last year, they latched onto #WhyIStayed, which offered a viral platform for abuse victims to defend themselves in the aftermath of the Ray Rice video leak. Rice had just been terminated from the Baltimore Ravens for assaulting his wife in an elevator, and a number of Internet naysayers bound together to question why Janay Palmer didn’t leave him, why all victims of domestic abuse don’t simply leave (and if they don’t aren’t they asking for it?). Scores of survivors turned to Twitter to tell their stories.

And in the middle of that tense fracas, DiGiorno pitched in its two cents.

Users were livid, and rightfully so. DiGiorno issued an immediate apology, having seemingly decided to keep the massive fail count to one a day.

2. McDonalds' Logic Fail

What’s the first thing you think when you hear the name “McDonalds”?

Well, it might be less of a thought and more of a gesture of cringing. People love to hate McDonalds. Even people who secretly enjoy McDonalds join in on the ridiculing. It’s what tends to happen when you combine 1) notoriously poor food quality, 2) unprecedented visibility, and 3) a pervasive culture of fast food stigma.

So maybe it wasn’t in McDonalds’ best interest to promote a social media campaign centered around the good ol’ times at Micky D’s.

The #McDstories hashtag opened the floodgates for genuine, troll-y, and generally tongue-in-cheek bashing of the franchise. The Internet was glad to have such an outlet. McDonalds? Not so much.


McD stories

McDonald's Twitter Campaign

McDonald's #McDStories Twitter campaign backfires

Maybe stick to the hashbrowns next time, eh McD?

3. Ogilvy's Sensitivity Fail

Actually, “sensitivity fail” is putting it lightly. Ogilvy India’s marketing faux pas was the mother of all marketing fails. We cannot fathom how anyone could have thought this was an acceptable idea….to think in your darkest, most perverse moments….let alone to broadcast in an ad campaign.

A series of 2014 print ads for the mattress company made a visual pun of a popular phrase, depicting a number of famous figures, in cartoon form, encountering their life’s great difficulties, only to hit a Kurl-on mattress and “bounce back.”

Not only is it pretty narcissistic to use Gandhi or Steve Jobs’ profound impact as a platform to shill your bed finery, but Malala Yousafzai? The print ad featuring Yousafzai graphically recounts the Taliban shooting incident and then inserts the image of a cartoon mattress smack dab in the middle of her recovery story.

Malala Yousafzai campaign

Malala Yousafzai’s strength and suffering is not a gimmick to be marketed.

4. Huggies' Sexism Fail

It’s not just that the use of sexism, racism, and the assorted -isms in marketing that perpetuates oppressive dogma….it’s also that it demonstrates a severe lack of original thought, not to mention complete intellectual dishonesty.

Most of your job is done for you when you’re selling diapers--- suffice to say, you’ll always have a willing consumer audience. So why, Huggies, did you default to the old “dads can’t dad well” trope? Was it necessary? Was it wise?

Well, good job on ticking off both sexes at once, we guess.

5. Oprah Fail

Celebrity endorsements are great, and Oprah is a media giant. People who would stop us ordinary folk in our tracks are probably just overzealous fan-girls to her. So getting Oprah to back your brand is a good idea.

Not so good is when Oprah promotes your product using the competitor’s product.Oprah Fail

Read more: These Promotional Campaigns Backfired Big Time

photo credit: flickr @ aboutmcdonalds