• Maggie Ewald

5 Brands That Missed The Mark On Their Advertising Campaigns

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

We all have had ideas that sounded a little better in our heads than in real life. Brands have these slip ups as well. Here are 5 brands that failed to create the successful ads they had hoped to.


1. Burger King's International Women's Day Tweet

Burger King decided to take an interesting route for International Women's Day 2021, to say the least. While their goal was to raise awareness on the small percentage of female chefs in the restaurant industry in hopes of changing the gender ratio, their tweet reading "Women belong in the kitchen" definitely missed the mark. This caused an uproar online as many thought the statement was offensive, sexist, and outdated. Burger King ultimately had to come out with a statement, assuring that they will "do better next time". Hopefully, the fast food chain will stick to their previous, less controversial tweets in the future.

2. Pepsi's Commercial Featuring Kendall Jenner

Pepsi received an extreme amount of backlash after this 2017 commercial with supermodel Kendall Jenner. The video shows Jenner doing a photoshoot as individuals are protesting outside. She grabs a can of Pepsi and shares it with a police officer, which seems to magically save the day. Many saw this as trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement, as it shows a stark contrast to the brutal and violent protests that were actually going on at the time. The messaging was clearly a tone-deaf approach to create a relevant story in hopes of company praise. Jenner even spoke about the controversy on her reality show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" where she sobbed apologetically.

3. Dove's GIF Advertisement

When Dove released a GIF ad showing a black woman transforming into a white woman, social media users were quick to meet the company with anger. Unlike some advertisement fails where you can see what the company was trying to channel, people were confused at what message Dove was trying to convey here in the first place. The ad clearly perpetuates racist stereotypes that view black as dirty and white as pure. The hashtag #BoycottDove began spreading quickly on Twitter, and the beauty company was forced to respond and apologize for the offense it caused. Since then, it seems as though Dove has learned from their mistakes, as they consistently promote inclusivity and diversity in their marketing.

4. Carl's Jr. Super Bowl Commercial

For years, it seemed as though Carl's Jr. took the philosophy "sex sells" a little too far. With a plethora of advertisements starring half naked women and little reference of the very product they were selling in the first place, the burger joint began to receive more and more outrage from the public. Their 2015 Super Bowl ad, specifically, was the last straw for many consumers. Some described this commercial as "setting back feminism four decades" and promoted hashtags like "#WomenAreMoreThanMeat". This resulted in Carl's Jr. completely rebranding, as they addressed and changed their marketing tactics to be less outdated. They even have made fun of their old commercials by using female comedian Celeste Barber to make parodies of the previously racy ads.

5. Juul's Teen-Inspired Advertisements

The popular electric cigarette company Juul faced loads of backlash for their advertisements that seemed to be geared towards a younger audience. With bright, fun colors and teenage models making up the ads, people began to think Juul was specifically targeting teenagers to smoke, adding to the "youth nicotine epidemic." Juul's advertisements were also being shown on Cartoon Network and other youth sites, which did not help their argument. Although these marketing tactics seem innocent on the surface, it is clear that trying to attract kids to a highly addictive drug will not be favored by the public.

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