17 of The Worst Marketing Failures of 2017


17 of The Worst Marketing Failures of 2017         

Marketing is a hit and miss affair and no campaign is ever 100% ironclad. As such, sometimes, things go terribly wrong leaving behind complicated messes to mop up. The risk of things taking a nosedive particularly increases the more marketers chase after the unique and spectacular. Here are 17 of the worst marketing failures of 2017.


In an ill-advised move, Pepsi partly utilized footage from the black lives matter movement to make an ad that featured Kendall Jenner giving a policeman a Pepsi. The ad gained an out-of-touch feel with the society thereby receiving a lot of backlash.


Dove decided to package its body care products in bottles that mimicked the different shapes of female bodies, and the move was not taken kindly by women. The company was severely criticized for increasing self-consciousness for women without the perfect body.

Walker’s social media campaign

Walkers, a snack company based in the U.K, implemented a campaign where people submitted selfies for an opportunity to win tickets to the Champions League final. Sadly, some people submitted images of dictators, crime lords, and serial killers and the company failed to audit the selfies causing a PR nightmare.

False news

Another PR nightmare came in the form of a Fox News update that President Trump was spending time working in the white house. Apparently, it was untrue as people pinpointed Trump’s location in his golf course in Virginia. 

The Oscars mix-up

Absent-mindedness caused a huge embarrassment during the Oscars when an incorrect movie was announced as the best motion picture. The one responsible for making sure the right envelopes were in the right hands slept off on the job.


When reiterating its slogan of only using fresh, unrefrigerated beef, one social media user called out the company in a tweet, which the company replied to cheekily. The back and forth answers gained momentum and the Wendy’s team slipped when they posted a meme associated with anti-Semitism.

Donald Trump

In his first day in office, Trump made the mistake of tweeting a thank you message with the word ‘honor’ misspelled. He was not spared by the multitudes and the fact that it was his first day in office only made it worse.


Nivea’s “white is purity” campaign obviously had racial undertones, and people were not amused. After public backlash, the company’s only recourse was to abandon the advertisement.

Co-op supermarket

Co-op supermarket ran an advert that was widely criticized for being blatantly sexist in a move that seemed to highlight the insensitivity of their marketing team. The ad appealed to parents to “treat your daughter for doing the washing up.”


Ford implemented a campaign that featured 3 women, bound and gagged in the trunk of their new hatchback. The ad was pulled down, and Ford had to apologize since many found the ad to encourage gender violence.

United Airlines

United airline’s self-instigated rough patch commenced when a video went viral of a gentleman being forcibly ejected from the plane after a random selection to make way for staff. The occurrence infuriated many, and the CEO made it worse by issuing an inauthentic apology.


In what was later attributed to account hacking, MacDonald’s called President Trump “a disgusting excuse of a president.” The tweet was deleted a short while later, but regardless of it being a hack or not, the damage was extensive.


In a congratulatory message to the Boston marathon participants, an Adidas social post seemed intentionally worded to remind people of the 2013 Boston Bombing. It was, however, an ingenuous mistake that they immediately apologized for.


In a bid to cash in on the January taxi drivers strike, instead of sticking with the drivers, Uber offered incentives to drive business in a move that seemed to undermine the strike. Lyft, its competitor, took up an opposite approach, and a #delete Uber campaign was launched to Uber’s detriment.


IHOP unwisely retweeted a tweet that claimed Hillary Clinton had a “major garbage campaign.” They promptly took down the retweet claiming a hack but people were not having any of it. In the tense political climate, the damage was already done.

Department of Education

For many, misspellings are not a big deal, but when it is the Department of Education committing typos, people definitely notice. Such was the case when the Department Misspelt W.E.B Dubois name in a post constituting one of his quotes and then went ahead to misspell the word apology when making the actual apology.

Burger King

In a campaign that was supposed to promote one of their most loved burgers, Burger King created an ad to run on smart devices that activated the device to read aloud burger ingredients from Wikipedia. Practical jokers in a wry attempt at humor altered the content by including ingredients like cyanide in the read up which drove the campaign south.

While looking to stand out, it is fairly easy to go off the rails when it comes to marketing. That said, most fails can be avoided by employing a keen eye, reviewing marketing copy and getting a second opinion before posting or taking a campaign live.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.