Biggest Marketing Campaigns That Flopped & Failed in Market

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Marketing campaigns are meant to attract viewers to purchase the companies products and other services. But sometimes things go wrong even for the most amazingly written and well executed marketing campaign.

Some of the biggest marketing fails and flops by brands from all across the globe is something which every marketer should look for before making any marketing strategy and campaign for their business and brand. If you look out there are N number of failed marketing campaigns which were implemented very perfectly and were executed in a proper manner but still failed. Keeping a note about why such marketing campaigns failed and then avoiding such mistakes in your own marketing campaign can help you a lot.

Companies always try to stand out by implementing and executing some of the most amazing marketing campaigns which their potential users can remember for a longer period of time which in turn will increase the sales of their products and services. This might sound easy and effective but the reality is different.

Sometimes due to even a single mistake or miss these well executed and implemented marketing campaigns fails to impress the potential customers which results in total loss for the company.

No marketing expert can take a full guarantee of the success of a marketing campaign because nobody knows which part of the campaign can make it popular and which part can make it a big fail in front of people.

Here in this article we have included some of the biggest marketing fails and flops which were supposed to boost the brands popularity but went terribly wrong for the brand. Looking at these marketing fails will surely going to give you some good lessons about how to create a successful marketing campaign.

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6 Biggest Marketing Fails and Flops of All Time:

  • Pepsi’s “Live for Now” ad.
  • Nivea’s “White is Purity”.
  • Sony’s “White is Coming”.
  • Hasbro’s “Monopoly for Millennials”.
  • Fanta’s 75th anniversary Advertisement References to Nazi Germany.
  • Cartoon Network’s Boston Mooninite Panic.
  1. Pepsi’s “Live for Now” ad:

Pepsi's Live for Now ad

This ad was pulled only one day after it was released. You have to wonder how badly it fared for Pepsi considering they even had Kendall Jenner in it. It was supposed to get people to unite and ‘join the conversation’. However, people ended up doing the opposite: they dissed Pepsi’s insensitivity to social justice causes on Twitter.

The most common complaint viewers had about the ad was that it trivialised the significance of the Black Lives Matter protest. It seemed to have suggested that the most effective way to resolve the tense issue is with a can of soda. Can we truly solve the large issue of institutional racism with a can of soft drink?

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  1. Nivea’s “White is Purity”:

Nivea's White is Purity

It is unclear whether the racist tones of this advert were intentional. Either way, netizens were quick to pounce on the ad, turning it into meme fodder.

As if things could not get any worse, alt-right media users started endorsing the ad, making Nivea credible amongst white supremacists and pro-Nazi groups.

Interestingly, this was not the first, perceptibly ‘racist’ ad Nivea released. Back in 2011, the German company released an advert portraying a black man throwing away his natural, afro hairstyle.

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  1. Sony’s “White is Coming”:

Sony's White is Coming

This was yet another marketing campaign accused of having racist undertones. The ad, promoting the new white PSP,  featured a white woman grabbing a black woman in an aggressive manner with text reading ‘PlayStation Portable. White is Coming’.

Surely there could have been better ways to promote a gaming device. Yet for some reason, the advertisement was green-lit. This was back in 2006.

The infamous advert re-emerged in 2017 thanks to a viral tweet on Twitter, leading people to wrongly accuse Sony of using racist marketing tactics in 2017.

  1. Hasbro’s Monopoly for Millennials:

Hasbro's Monopoly for Millennials

This was yet another problematic promotional campaign. The main issue with this campaign is that it offended the very audience it was trying to target and sell to. While controversies are good for marketing, sometimes they can be too much for their own good. Amazon reviews of the board game are mostly negative as it provoked the ire of millennials. The board game seems to mock the crippling circumstances they have to live with i.e. mounting student debt and adulting.

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  1. Fanta’s 75th anniversary advertisement references to Nazi Germany:

Fanta's 75th anniversary advertisement references to Nazi Germany

When your company has ties to the most infamous genocide in history, it is generally wise to avoid invoking ‘nostalgia’ for the event. Hugo Boss and Volkswagen are companies which make great efforts to stay away from their Nazi Germany origins.

While the Fanta video does not explicitly refer to Nazi Germany, it does implicitly refer to Nazi Germany’s past as ‘good old times’. Fanta was first started in Nazi Germany due to an embargo on ingredients. This made it hard for Germany to produce Coke. The ad was pulled as a result.

Their misguided attempt to invoke nostalgia for a traumatic period in history resulted in people becoming aware of the little-known fact: Fanta was born in Nazi Germany. Unfortunately that’s what most people are going to associate Fanta with now, moving forward.

  1. Cartoon Network’s Boston Mooninite Panic:

Cartoon Network’s Boston Mooninite Panic

Unlike the above, this campaign had more serious consequences for those involved.

In a bid to promote Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a guerrilla marketing agency Interference, Inc. set up magnetic light displays around Boston. Mistaken for IEDs, the police subsequently mistook them for ‘bomb threats’. They sent in their bomb squads and shut down subways and roads.

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In this way, a guerrilla marketing campaign turned into a week-long saga of angry authorities and amusement from people across the nation.

The marketers from Interference, Inc. were arrested. In addition, the head of Cartoon Network resigned in the wake of the backlash.

At the end of the day, marketers do not create marketing campaigns with the goal to harm individuals with derogatory narratives. However, because of certain social contexts that pop culture deems taboo, they come across that way. As a result, one poor decision can undo all the good press that has been built up.

Do you have any more examples to add to this list? What can marketers do to avoid alienating their audience? Do let us know in the comments.

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