Marketing Campaigns Gone Shockingly Wrong (Case Study)

Image by Trace Byrd on Dribbble

When a company launches a new marketing campaign, it should resonate with audiences. However, on many occasions, certain campaigns have gone so wrong that they have caused offence.

Let’s take a look at a few marketing campaigns that would never have been released if we’d have seen them beforehand. Perhaps if they’d have used CreativeSpark brand agency to create these campaigns, we wouldn’t have been writing this article.

Pepsi and Kendall Jenner Ad

This one was an absolute stinker. In 2017, Pepsi recognised that the year was big for many political movements and protests were at an all-time high. Unfortunately, what Pepsi didn’t realise was that political activism is based around taking forceful, direct stances to get an opinion heard.

Instead, Pepsi ended up creating a campaign that watered down the seriousness of political activism and made a complete mockery of everything it stands for – much to the displeasure of consumers and audiences. The fact that Pepsi played down the importance of something serious in an attempt to prop up their own brand resulted in one of the worst campaigns of all time.

The infamous TV advert involves young groups marching down the street protesting about something, in a manner that has clearly been copied from the Black Lives Matter movement, whilst holding signs that read “Love” and “Join the Conversation”. There are several police officers blocking the protestors’ path when suddenly Kendall Jenner appears from a photoshoot. Don’t ask us why there’s a photoshoot alongside a protest.

Anyway, Kendall then joins the protest and offers a policeman a can of Pepsi. A close-up shot shows the policeman glancing at the drink and smiling, suggesting to his fellow policemen that “This is an exceptional drink”. Everybody then begins to cheer along, including the previously infuriated protesters.

So, if drinking a single can of Pepsi could bring peace to the world and resolve historical injustice, this advert would have been great. However, (shock horror) it can’t. This advert was in result an extremely offensive, insensitive campaign that undermined the trauma that millions have had to endure. Pepsi came to this realisation quickly and pulled the commercial. However, news outlets and Kendall herself left it online, allowing this to live on forever. Maybe drink Coke next time?

Heineken Ad

Heineken completely messed up in 2018. The year was a big one for politics and campaigns in support of different cultures. Therefore, an advert to promote these campaigns would have been a good idea. However, Heineken’s ad didn’t even intend on making a political statement yet ended up being at the forefront of a political debate for all the wrong reasons.

In a time of diversity and acceptance, Heineken’s advert was either extremely lazy or they decided to make a controversial ad merely to get people talking about it – and we hope it isn’t the latter!

You can watch the ad below.

The notorious TV advert began with a risky slogan which read “Sometimes Lighter Is Better”, which in itself is open to some questionable interpretations. However, you could maybe let this slip as surely they were talking about beer and not people, right? Wrong.

The advert went on to show a shot of a beer sliding across a bar. As the bottle moves, it passes many people of colour, all of whom ignore the bottle. The beer then lands in the hands of a light-skinned person who drank it with a smile.

The intended message of a ‘lighter beer is better’ did not get conveyed clearly. Instead, the focus on racial issues was inevitable from this ad. The famous rapper, “Chance, The Rapper” was disgusted by the commercial and went on to Twitter to say “I think some companies are purposely putting out noticeably racist ads so they can get more views… The ‘sometimes lighter is better’ Heineken commercial is terribly racist omg”.

Maybe Chance was right, had they intentionally made the advert controversial for the sake of views? We’d like to hope not. Either way, this marketing disaster can act as a reminder to use a diverse marketing team that would spot this type of problem before the advert went live.

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