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Nov 24 2017

Our top marketing fails of 2017 (so far)

2017 has been a year of great gains and gigantic fails, and that’s not least in the world of advertising. Leading on from the success of our 2016 Marketing Fails last year, we’ve decided to bring together another list of campaigns that really should have gone through a sense test.






1. Pepsi meets Kendall Jenner

Unless you’ve been living on a different planet for the past 12 months, you will have undoubtedly heard of the Pepsi/Kendall Jenner debacle that hit the Internet this year.



Clearly referencing the Black Lives Matter protest, Pepsi decided that Kendall Jenner was up to the task of quelling a protest, by giving a police officer a can of Pepsi, thus bringing the “unrest” to a satisfactory end.


After immediate backlash from civil rights groups around the world, and social media users on every platform, the company released this statement:


“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”


Missed the mark? Yes. Well meaning? Maybe. Well thought through? No.


Top Tips from One2create – Think about the connotations of your content before you launch your campaign. With so much political and racial unrest in the world, even the most well-meaning idea can soon become an all-out failure.


2. The US Department for Education & Mr Du Bois


Now, from the outset, this might not seem like such a big deal. In February 2017, the US Department of Education tweeted out a quote, which the famous civil-rights activist, scholar and NAACP founder made about the importance of education.


Sounds good right, and the meaning was clear. The tweet was well-intentioned and would have probably been well received. Except it wasn’t. They should have spelt his name right, but they didn’t.


Exhibit A.


marketing fails us dept education 1 258x300 - Our top marketing fails of 2017 (so far)


Exhibit B.


The correct spelling – W.E.B Du Bois.


Now, after a few hours of “gentle” teasing from Twitter users, they issued an apology. Nearly always, these tweets remove them from the public gaze, and we all move on with our days.


At this point however, the utterly flustered and beaten social media handler for the DoE must have thought, “phew, time to sit back, relax and find some more news”.


No no, dear readers, no no.


Exhibit C.



nov marketing fails 2017 dept education apology tweet 300x300 - Our top marketing fails of 2017 (so far)


That is not how you spell “deepest apologies”.


Top Tip from One2create – check the spelling of your posts, before you send it out, and definitely check any required apology for any typos! It helps, honestly. If you’re unsure about the spelling or terminology you’re using, it’s best to check with someone else (or Google) before you hit publish.


3. Nivea and the mistaken wording


Linking into the Kendall Jenner fiasco comes Nivea and their Middle Eastern deodorant marketing campaign.


We don’t think we need to say much about this one, the un-intended meaning behind the words speak for themselves. No one, we repeat, no one, will ever think this is a good idea. Ever.


marketing fails nivea white pure 231x300 - Our top marketing fails of 2017 (so far)


Top Tip from One2create – Think about the connotations of your strap line before you create an advertising campaign. Any good marketing campaign strategy meeting will iron out any wrinkles, with a collaborative approach ensuring your company is portrayed in a positive light.


4. McDonalds enter the political sphere


We all understand how important it is to make sure your passwords are safe and secure. However, we’re not sure how well McDonalds protected their social media log in details after this gaff earlier in the year.


In March of 2017, one tweet took the world by storm, and even managed to start it’s very own hash-tag (#BoycottMcDonalds). They claimed their account was hacked, but who knows?


So, what do you think it was? Did they reveal the secret ingredient to their Big Mac recipe? Did they show what Ronald McDonald looks like under his makeup?


No, they did not. It was this:


nov marketing fails mcdonalds tweet trump 300x168 - Our top marketing fails of 2017 (so far)



Top Tip from One2create – Keep your password safe, don’t give it out to strangers, and make sure you don’t try to annoy political supporters of the US president (even if he does have tiny hands). Any content marketing team will tell you that entering the political fray will have a negative impact on your business, so just stay away.


5. Walkers and the #WalkersWave


Spoiler alert: We’re not going to include images on this one, but you can see them on the Huffington Post’s article here.


In May of 2017, Walkers decided that they were going to ask the general public to tweet them a picture of their face, which would then be added to a video featuring Gary Lineker. Each face would also be included in a giant, online Mexican wave.


All going well, the world of Twitter would happily send them pictures of their faces and all would be well. However, because the Internet, this didn’t happen.


People decided to send in pictures of other people, including…wait for it:

  • Rolf Harris
  • Osama bin Laden
  • Myra Hindley
  • Harold Shipman
  • Jimmy Saville


Top Tip from One2create – When you’re asking for audience participation in a social media campaign, it’s crucial that you set out clear terms and conditions before the campaign is launched. Boaty McBoat-Face, that’s all we’re saying.



So there we have it, the top marketing fails from 2017 so far. Are there any that we’ve missed? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so let us know in the comments below. Likewise, you can join the conversation on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Look forward to seeing you!

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Elly Cattermole

Our marketing and creative demon - Elly is here to keep you updated on any new developments in the industry. Her keen eye for social media updates (they happen more than you think!) and new ideas to market your business means she’s in the know for all things content.

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