Man with head on computer marketing fails 2016
Nov 29 2016

Top 5 Marketing Fails in 2016…so far

We consider ourselves experts in web design and digital marketing, but even we sometimes cringe at other (larger) marketing campaigns that seem to have slipped through the “Is This Really Appropriate” net. Just to make your day, we’ve pulled together our favourite top 5 marketing fails of 2016 so far.


Qiabi Washing Detergent Advert


Now, if you’re familiar with Youtube-surfing then you’ll know that some product advertisements from overseas can be slightly more risqué than we’re used to.


Take for example the recent campaign for Qiabi washing detergent that has been released this year.


marketing fails 2016 quabi 300x166 - Top 5 Marketing Fails in 2016…so far


The clip starts innocently enough, but soon takes a different path. The leading lady is loading her washing machine, when a man of African descent in dirty clothes walks into the room.


The woman proceeds to push a washing capsule into his mouth, and force him into her washing machine.


We don’t really want to go into too much detail about the rest (it makes us really uncomfortable) but as a whole, we’re not sure how the creators thought this advertisement was going to be received.




2016 hasn’t got off to a good start, especially with the loss of so many talented individuals. From David Bowie to Alan Rickman, Harper Lee to Victoria Wood, fans and admirers alike have taken to social media to show support to the families of those who have passed away.


Some companies have taken a completely different approach. A word of advice: never, ever….ever use the #RIP to promote your business. Not cool guys, not cool.


nov marketing fails 2016 cheerios tweet 300x270 - Top 5 Marketing Fails in 2016…so far


You won’t find any of these updates still visible on each company’s social media accounts, and you can see why. Take these tweets that were posted when the news that Prince had passed away earlier this year.


Madonna might not have meant to be disrespectful – #rebelheart was the name of her tour at the time, and she added it into all her Tweets – but a bit of selective Hashtagging might have been in order here.


nov marketing fails 2016 madonna tweet 262x300 - Top 5 Marketing Fails in 2016…so far



Instilling False Hope


Yet another reason certain people should not be allowed into the world of social media. This particular marketing fail of 2016 was undertaken by Australian well-being and lifestyle blogger, Belle Gibson, author of “Your Whole Life Starts With You”.


June Belle Gibson Marketing Fails 2016 The Whole Pantry - Top 5 Marketing Fails in 2016…so far


If you haven’t heard, this year Belle Gibson claimed that her lifestyle choices (oxygen therapy, gluten free food and a refined sugar diet) cured her terminal cancer. It didn’t, because she never had cancer in the first place.


Not a good start Belle, not a good start.


She faced facing legal action, with fines and penalties of up to £500,000. Short of kicking Cecil the Lion, we don’t think she could have done a worse job of growing her personal brand.


Mistaken Identity


nov marketing fails oprah winfrey - Top 5 Marketing Fails in 2016…so far


That’s because it’s Whoopi Goldberg, not Oprah Winfrey. Rule 1 when Tweeting about celebrities, make sure you’ve got the right person before you post; it saves awkward moments such as this.


LA-based beauty company Total Beauty sent this Tweet during the Oscars this year.


Critics and fans alike we quick to point out the obvious mistake, but the main reason it caused such a stir was down to the lack of black acting nominees during the ceremony.


That, and only someone who’s been living on the moon doesn’t know what Oprah Winfrey looks like.


Ask the Audience


Everybody loves a survey, and companies are increasingly turning to crowd sourcing for their marketing campaigns. Word of advice: when you’re asking a question you need to provide structure and give practical options for people to choose from.


If you don’t, the result is…Boaty McBoatFace. Thanks to Britain’s National Environmental Research Council (NERC), their most recent project nearly turned into the laughing stock of the entire world.


nov marketing fails boaty mcBoatFace 300x159 - Top 5 Marketing Fails in 2016…so far


Now, we’re not saying an open poll isn’t a fantastic way to increase brand reach and promote your business, but if you’re spending $287 million on a polar research vessel, you want it to have a suitable name.


Our top tips for crowd sourcing include:

  • Target your audience carefully, and don’t “scattergun” your approach
  • Give audiences viable options; don’t leave it open to suggestions (Boaty McBoatface remember?)
  • Have a disclaimer in your survey stating that your company reserves the right to veto all votes in the event that a BMBF scenario happens again.


So there we have it, our top 5 marketing fails of 2016 so far. Have we missed any out? Or have you seen any that are worse? We’d love to hear from you, so Like us on Facebook here, follow us on Twitter here or leave a comment for us below 🙂 We look forward to hearing from you.

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rob headshot 150x150 - Top 5 Marketing Fails in 2016…so far
Rob Hewitt

The go-to guy when it comes to copy! Whether it’s crafting some educational blurb about your business, or getting creative with some clever marketing messaging, he’ll give you the words you need to smash it. No sentence is too big or small.

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