Campaign Blunders: What can you learn from these Brands?

Campaign Blunders: What can you learn from these Brands?

By myclever™ Agency

We have all seen those awesome marketing campaigns that make us think “WOW”. This reaction is what every person working in marketing wants, but sometimes even the most thoughtful campaigns get overlooked with surprising consequences.

Make Sure People Understand.

This may sound pretty straight forward but some people have got this drastically wrong! In 2007 Cartoon Network launched a guerrilla marketing campaign where they set up LED lights in various cities around the US. It would seem a pretty straight forward campaign but one resident in Boston thought the devices were bombs. This led to a huge terrorism scare resulting in the closure of many public transport lines, bridges and streets. The problem cost the head of Cartoon Network his job and the company was fined $2 million in compensation for the emergency response teams that were sent around the country.

This problem could have actually been solved pretty simply by putting the cartoon network logo on the signs making people recognise the brand then realise that it is advertising. It would also be advised to make the proper authorities aware of what you are doing if there is ever the scope for misunderstanding.


Don’t let things get lost in translation.

When looking at a multinational campaign it’s essential to make sure that your campaign slogan means the same thing in every language. This is something Pepsi didn’t quite manage to do.

Pepsi’s campaign launched with the tag line “Pepsi brings you back to life” but when translated the slogan said “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”. Now, this could have actually brought Pepsi more purchases from Chinese nationals hoping to bring their love ones back to life but it’s unlikely.

The simplest thing to do when going international with a campaign would be to actually ask a native what your slogan means before you ship the campaign.


Make sure you check cultural differences.

The most recent of the blunders came in May 2014 from well-known brand Ariel. In 2014 the summer is all about the World Cup and for advertising it’s no different. It’s easy to jump on the back of this global event but for Ariel, who are sponsoring the German national team it ended quite badly, with the recall of thousands of boxes of washing powder after inadvertently launching the packaging with accidental Nazi imagery.

In celebration of the sponsorship deal Ariel launched a giant sized washing powder box made to look like the German Nationals Squad shirt, on the back of the box they put ‘Ariel’ where the player’s name would be and the number 88 referring to the number of washes that customers can get from the box. Sounds innocent enough.

Well, not so much, as they quickly found out that the number 88 is in-fact a well know Nazi reference to ‘Heil Hitler’ as H is the 8th letter in the alphabet.

That alone might have caused an uproar, however, the brand name ‘Ariel’ on the back of the box is only one letter off the word ‘Arier’ which is German for Aryan race, another accidental white supremacism neo-Nazi term.

And finally, if the box wasn’t Nazi related enough, a slogan on the back of the box boasted about the ‘new concentration’ of the formula, however, some thought it could be linked back to referencing Nazi concentration camps.

These were three huge mistakes, these on their own may have been frowned upon but together caused a wide spread recall of the product.



Over to you.

What are your big no no’s when implementing a campaign?

This post was written by myclever™ Agency

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