Biggest advertising fails in 2017 so far

In the age of ad-blocking and three-second attention spam, marketers find it more difficult than ever to capture their audience’s attention. Understandably, with the hustle getting harder brands try to get more creative and push out strong messages that would grab people’s attention and get them talking about it.

Caution - this comes with the risk of getting it awfully wrong! Inevitably, some brands do… And here we get the pleasure to look at some of the worst advertising campaigns in 2017.

With probably no surprise to anyone, Pepsi's campaign with Kendall Jenner is the first thing that pops to my mind when I think “2017’s ad fails”. I appreciate that Pepsi is a massive and long-lived brand, so creating something new, but meaningful, timely and slightly provocative, can be a pickle, but damn they got it oh-so-wrong… Political messages, which aren’t often well received in advertising anyway, didn’t resonate with anyone and Pepsi’s attempt to promote their brand using sensitive social movement like Black Lives Matter, received strong backlash.

Similarly to Pepsi, McDonald’s faced a storm of criticism, after trying to emotionally appeal to their audience by creating a storyline where the main thing that united a child and his dead father, was their Filet-O-Fish. This one baffles me on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start. Firstly, since when McD’s brand voice is so eternally Northern? Secondly, on what planet is it OK to push a message that a bereaving child can find some piece in a burger?! I don’t know… As a fellow marketer, I enjoy scrutinising and discussing others work, but this one just leaves me shrugging my shoulders and manically overusing the confused girl emoji.

To move away from all the blatantly controversial stuff, I invite you to look at the highly amusing advertising fail, of usually-getting-it-right Dove. Working on their “Real Beauty” message, Dove got creative on a whole another level and decided to launch a line where their body wash bottles resembled different body shapes and "illustrated the power of body diversity". I kind of get what they wanted to do there, but I’m still convinced that no sake-minded woman would like her figure to be compared to a bottle of body wash, and Dove should have clicked on that. Their attempt “to make every woman their very own limited edition" of the product, was nowhere near as appallingly inappropriate as Pepsi’s or McD’s campaigns, but the reaction it received on social media was strong enough for the campaign to make it to this ad-fails shortlist. My personal favourite was a tweet from a New York-based movies editor saying “@dove I have arms please advise”. *giggles*

My last case can be debated. There may be people who don’t dread the Trivagowoman, but in my personal view the travel website threw pots of money into a campaign that is boring, unoriginal and simply annoyingly ‘ady’. A picture of a woman inviting you to find “ideal hotels at best prices” plastered everywhere you look simply doesn’t cut it for me. Just because something is constantly in your face it doesn’t mean it’ll start resonating with you. However, it does mean it may start to haunt you and make you feel like the brand is intentionally trying to annoy you and inviting to blank any of their communications. No, Trivago, just no.

No holidays for me then. Back to the graft. Hopefully creating some more engaging and relevant campaigns. 

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