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Some of the worst marketing fails from recent years


Unfortunately, ideas don’t always translate and some of the details that make a campaign great can get lost during production.

heinz-2015-marketing-failuresHeinz Tomato Ketchup links to porn

Even big brands can make blunders. A German gentleman had the misfortune of being redirected to a hardcore porn website when he scanned the QR code on the back of a Heinz bottle. This happened because the company let the website expire and then an even ‘saucier’ organisation bought the domain name. Your meal is ready!

IHOP Restaurant likes them big

We bet the IHOP community manager learned their lesson after they tweeted this attempted joke. Needless to say, it upset quite a few people. Eventually, the tweet was removed, but after hours of no reaction from the company had passed. Lesson of the day: Want to be controversial? Want to make fun of a touchy subject? Great, go ahead, just be prepared for the consequences and act fast.

Heineken beerBudweiser promotes date rape

The Bud Light slogan was one of the biggest marketing gaffs in terms of ignorance and attitudes towards rape. How anyone could have written these words and not seen the implications is beyond me. The slogan suggests the beer is for a ‘certain type’ of woman who is carefree, gets drunk and doesn’t care what happens to her.

Shitto Hot Pepper Sauce

This product from Ghana may just do what it promises on the label – depending on how hot it is. Described on one website as Gourmet Pepper Sauce, Shitto does translate to pepper in the Ga language. Clearly someone didn’t do enough research on how this would be read internationally.

Wolkswagen-marketing-failure-2015Volkswagen doesn’t care about the environment

Although not hilarious, we think this one is worth a mention because it is always thrilling to see the giant ones fall. Just in case you were on your yearly trip to Mars, Volkswagen had emissions cheating software installed in their diesel cars between 2009 and 2015 to show lower nitrogen oxide emissions than they were actually emitting. This falsified engines into appearing cleaner than they actually were.

Coca-Cola doesn’t get Russian geography

As seasoned professionals at the top of the marketing game, you might think that Coca-Cola would have a team of people ready to make sure everything the brand sends out is spotless. But somehow, this Russian ad slipped through their fingers.

To outsiders, it may look just like a snow-covered map of Russia. To Russians, it’s clearly missing Kaliningrad, a city annexed after the end of World War II.


About Erik Mickelson

Erik Mickelson is the author of Northwest Custom Apparel's blogs. Erik has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 1996 after graduating from Washington State University and is the founder of the Apparel Graphic Academy. Trained by the custom graphic apparel industry's best, Mark Venit, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Embroidery Adventure blog. As they say, 'Experience is the best teacher.' We are proud to have Erik as part of our team!

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