Good marketing can make a big difference to your business and I’m not just saying that because I work for marketing company. But I thought I’d take a look at some of the times that marketing hasn’t gone so well. So I’ve trawled the internet looking for the worst marketing mistakes I could find, some are quite funny, some not so much…



(A strange one to start on) Yep, such a great hashtag choice, maybe consider capital letters next time? This was used to promote Susan Boyle’s album release and while it gained quite a lot of attention, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t for the right reasons.

Gap logo redesign

In 2010, Gap decided it was time for a change, a very expensive change. An estimated $100 million change that didn’t turn out quite so well. They thought it may be time for a new logo and this logo lasted approximately a week. To be honest the logo looked like it could have been made with word art and there was nothing wrong with the original logo which had lasted 20 years without issue. Seriously, if its not broken, don’t fix it.


Ford Pinto in Brazil

The car was introduced in 1971 and was given the name Pinto due to the pinto horse, a horse whose coat consists of patches of white and any other colour. Unfortunately, in Brazil, the word pinto has a very different meaning. It is a slang term meaning “tiny male genitals” so it is unsurprising that the car didn’t sell too well.

Heinz QR code


This one may not go in the direction you’re expecting if you’ve never heard of this before. Between 2012 and 2014, Heinz ran a campaign that allowed people to design their own Heinz labels if they scanned the QR code on the bottle. However when a man from Germany scanned the code in 2015 (after the campaign had ended), he was directed to a hardcore porn site. Unfortunately Heinz had not kept the domain after the campaign had ended and it was then purchased by an adult entertainment site, even though the QR coded bottles were still in circulation and so would continue to link customers to the site. Heinz apologised to the man and offered him a personalised label free of charge, he also received an offer of a years free subscription to the porn site from its owners.

Oprah Surface tweet

Oprah is said to love the Microsoft Surface, however when tweeting about buying 12 of them for Christmas presents, she used Twitter for iPad. Oops! At the time the surface had no dedicated twitter app which may explain why she had chosen to use the iPad but it didn’t stop people from poking fun at the mistake.


U2 album

If you have an iPhone you probably know about this one. When U2 released their new album in 2014, they teamed up with Apple and thought it was a great idea to send a lot of iTunes users (500 million) their album completely free regardless of whether they actually wanted it. This received a lot of hate on social media, prompting Apple to release a step-by-step guide to remove the album and Bono issuing an apology.

Cartoon network Advertising Campaign


In 2007, Turner Broadcasting decided to promote a new animated TV show (Aqua Teen Hunger Force) airing on Cartoon Network by placing battery powered LED light screens depicting a character from the upcoming show around Boston. However they were misinterpreted as improvised explosive devices causing major panic throughout the city and bomb squad intervention.


Budweiser #UpForWhatever campaign

91bebcb94b4261e8af75be4c53a21010.jpgWhile the up for whatever hashtag doesn’t sound too bad, it was what was paired with it that caused the problem. The bottle had an unfortunate tagline which promoted rape culture, it said “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” It received quite a backlash on Twitter and the company promised that no more bottle with the offensive tagline would be produced or released.



An example that a joke to some is not a joke to everyone else. Take a look at the post below:


There was mixed reactions to the tweet, with some defending the company and others condemning it. The tweet really was just meant as a joke and there was no malice intended, however IHOP quickly issued an apology.


Urban outfitters

They’ve had quite a few brushes with controversy, the one(s) I’m mentioning here involves the holocaust. You see the (s) at the side of one, that is there because the made the mistake more than once. They released a yellow t-shirt with a six pointed star on the chest which some saw as too close to the star of David that Jewish people had to wear in Nazi Germany. In 2015, they released a tapestry which resembled the uniform that gay prisoners were forced to wear in concentration camps. Both items were eventually pulled from sale.

uo marketing fail.jpg

Nokia Camera

For the release of a new phone (Lumia 920), Nokia decided to showcase the new PureView camera and the optical image stabilisation (OIS) capabilities. They decided to do this by showing footage shot on the camera, however the footage they shot was not on the phone it was on a shoulder mounted camera which can clearly be seen on the ad when the camera goes past a window.



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