Do you wanna guess which campaigns made it to this roundup? Do “Dove” and “Pepsi” conjure up any cringes? Where were you the first time you yelled, “Oh…mygod, how did this make it passed a team of brand professionals?!”
For some brands, 2017 was a breakthrough year for them. For others, 2017 will likely be the year they’re known for producing some of the absolute worst and most tone-deaf campaigns—like ever. (We will be “WTF”ing Dove until the end of time.)
But, from all fails, comes lessons, and what we learned from all these brand fails is: don’t exploit people’s pain for an ad. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
Pepsi: “Live for Now”
Ah…who could forget Pepsi’s short film starring Kendall Jenner, who magically solves a very tense protest with a can of Pepsi? The spot was quickly pulled amidst outrage and backlash on social media. It’s considered “one of the most reviled ads in recent memory.”
Lesson learned: Don’t put your product in the center of social issues while simultaneously trivializing said issues. Never make light of social issues related to people’s suffering. Seems like obvious one, but alas…
Using the company’s Facebook Spaces VR app, Zuckerberg took people through a “magical tour” (as he dubbed it!!!) through the damage in Puerto Rico after the hurricanes. Why?! To hopefully result in people wanting to use the app. Instead, it was just was seen as completely exploitative.
Lesson learned: Think about your ad from multiple perspectives. An internal team should have the wherewithal to warn someone about the potential pitfalls of covering sensitive subjects like natural disasters.
As much as we would love to continue to put these big brands on blast, you’ll have to take it from here. Still more gaffs from Dove, McDonald’s, and Uber inside. →