Advertising Fails and What We Can Learn from Them


Brands are often placed in a precarious position when advertising campaigns fail. There are so many ways to fail when it comes to ads and the important thing is to learn from these mistakes. But again and again, we tend to see some who fail miserably to read between the fine lines of an ad being offensive or insensitive. And to be fair, it is really hard to discern beforehand what can be considered offensive or insensitive. You have to take into account so many ideas and philosophies right now that it is really hard to nail that right ad campaign that would allow a certain brand to reach their targeted audience. And to learn from these mistakes here is are recent advertising campaigns that failed to create their planned effect for their audience.

leila bun

Cinnabon pays tribute to Princess Leia’s “buns”

Mourning a celebrities’ death is often a tricky topic. But Cinnabon paid tribute to her through a pastry-themed photo and it was not received well. They had to later take it down and apologize for it as Twitter users were even calling it exploiting legitimate grief over a beloved actress’ death.


Total Beauty mistakes Whoopi Goldberg for Oprah

Yes, some celebrities have look a likes but it is important to do research and tell the difference between this celebrities. That is where Total Beauty failed. They have mistaken Whoopi Goldberg for Oprah and created a big deal regarding the tattoos they never knew Oprah had. They corrected the error by donating $10,000 to a charity the two stars chose.


Bisquick fields political questions

It may be the timing, but people did not find Bisquick’s offer to answer questions about which is better, pancakes or waffles, amusing. People quickly reacted heatedly and this may be due to the hostile presidential elections, but it wasn’t really a bad question. It is not even really offensive. But it is worth noting that timing can be another factor when it comes to rolling out ad campaigns.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Co. Ad “A writer yesterday. A vet today.”

Wells Fargo & Co.’s main goal was to mostly encourage parents with their financial planning for education. But it created a lot of negative feedback from celebrities as the ads always mention a creative field as the unsavory career choice that the kid may have. In the end, the company had to apologize for their Ads and they made up for it by donating to nonprofits supporting the arts, culture, and education.

Sprint Corp. calling T-Mobile Ghetto Video Ad

Yes, racism is often the topic that an Ad or a Brand can be called out for. So it is quite baffling how Sprint Corp. could not have foreseen this one. On their said Ad, a while woman says “ghetto” when asked about T-Mobile and what comes to mind. They had to pull this ad from the air with apologies.

So maybe we just need to look at past examples to know what would work for an ad campaign and what would backfire. It is quite crucial for a company and marketers, in particular, to not create a negative buzz on their ad campaigns. But then again, you can always donate thousands of dollars to make up for it and it is still kind of a win for the charities involved.