11 May

Please Don’t Spike My Eggnog: How to Learn from Big Brand Fails

By Abby Brown, Creative Associate

The world of marketing is often a nerve-racking place to navigate. There are numerous variables to consider when reaching an audience: messaging, visuals, copy, positioning, etc. It’s important to have a reliable team that will ensure each detail is covered. Unfortunately, we’re only humans. Sometimes details are forgotten, mistakes are made, and we learn from trial by error. Or in some cases, we learn from watching big brands make very big fails.

Need some inspiration? A few face-palm-inducing attempts at marketing that will scare you into double-checking every teeny tiny detail? Here are three recent cringe-worthy examples:

Victoria’s Secret “Perfect Body” Campaign
Ah, yes. Because by putting on an overpriced bra, all of us can miraculously achieve the body of 100lb supermodels! This campaign ran right in the midst of other brands, such as Modcloth, Aerie, and Dove, pledging to only feature ‘real’ women in their visuals. VS quickly apologized and altered their campaign, but that’s the beauty of social media. Your horrible mistakes are forever immortalized!

U2’s iTunes Takeover
This one affected me on a personal level. I woke up one morning, put my iPhone on shuffle for my walk to class, only to find I had a whole U2 album in my music library. I do not particularly like U2. Their music infiltrating my phone without my permission felt like a creepy violation of my personal space, and I’m not the only one who felt that way. Bono himself apologized for their marketing tactic. Lesson learned: don’t ruthlessly impose your product on your audience.

Bloomingdale’s Creepy Holiday Ad
One of the biggest ad scandals of the 2015 holiday season, Bloomingdale’s made a huge mistake by publishing a distasteful ad in their own catalog. The ad reads “spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Apparently nothing gets you in the holiday spirit like potentially drugging your friends. The controversial ad obviously received a huge backlash on social media. Bloomingdale’s swiftly apologized for their “error in judgment,” but it goes to show just how powerful thoughtless mistakes can be.

Moral of the story: quality control is everything. At Rasor, we have a “two sets of eyes” rule. Nothing goes out of the office until at least two people have looked at it. Run your copy and concepts by a trusted colleague. If you want to really ensure your campaign is solid, consider putting it in a test market. Whichever method you choose, always remember the importance of thoughtful details. Your brand’s reputation depends on them.