Despite our hearts of gold, sometimes those of us that work in marketing don’t think a campaign strategy all the way through. We miss the mark with a marketing message or (gasp!) make a mistake. In the spirit of “end-of-year” fun, we took a look at some #MarketingFails from 2014.
1. Patriots tweet N-word in social media fail
Even with the best of intentions, online management systems can sometimes fail us. Such was the case when the New England Patriots retweeted the N-Word on the back of a jersey as part of their #1MillionPatriot campaign that was intended to celebrate their one millionth follower on Twitter. The campaign was set to automatically post a photo of a team jersey with a handwritten note from Patriots Player Rob Gronkowski and the name of the Twitter handle of the one millionth follower. Well, the one millionth follower’s Twitter handle happened to be @IHATEN****S. The Tweet was auto-sent from the Patriots Twitter account going out to all one million followers.
Fortunately shortly after the error was caught and the Patriots issued this apology tweet.
Guess we’ll be re-thinking any filtering systems, eh?
2. Communications director fired after tweet sent about AIDS in Africa
Justine Sacco, a PR executive for a large Internet company named InteractiveCorp, made a name for herself this year in the most inappropriate way by tweeting the below:
She shared this dreadful tweet prior to boarding a plane with no internet access. Needless to say, she walked off the plane to a firestorm of controversy. She was later fired, and also issued the following apology:
“Words cannot express how sorry I am, and how necessary it is for me to apologize to the people of South Africa, who I have offended due to a needless and careless tweet,” Sacco said. ”... Unfortunately, it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand.”
While the apology seemed sincere, maybe she should consider putting all the high-level PR training to good use?
3. Walmart labels online category ‘Fat Girl Costumes’
Working in the web world every day, we understand the need for good categorization on your website. Sadly, the website manager over at Walmart.com was either playing a tasteless joke or just mis-managed the ‘Plus-Sized’ costumes during Halloween this year.
Jezebel.com broke this story when a user reported that while shopping for Halloween costumes online at Walmart.com, she came across the ‘Fat Girl Costumes’ section.
Additionally, many costumes were listed with sarcasm-ridden descriptions such as this describing the Marie Antoinette costume:
After the story broke, multiple media sites picked up the story, leaving Walmart.com busy issuing multiple online apologies for being so insensitive.
Here’s where it pays to have a professional web development firm that also closely manages your digital marketing. [Hint: We have a team to double check website changes before they go live.]
4. Sephora typo turns promotion into profanity
It all starts out with good intentions... then a typo can ruin everything. French cosmetic company, Sephora, innocently enough wanted to promote an upcoming store opening in Australian using the hashtag #CountdownToBeauty. But boy, doesn’t one letter make a difference!? Instead, the actual hashtag that was used ended up #C**ntdownToBeauty causing what many called an “uproariously profane” mistake in a Facebook post.
This mistake led to online users continuing to use the inappropriate hashtag in their own online posts:
We now feel the need to share a small list of online spell-checkers for your social media use:
Grammarly for Chrome
Ginger Spell and Grammar Checker
JSpell HTML Spell Checker
5. DiGiorno Pizza Inadvertently Mocks Victims of Domestic Violence
Hey, we understand Twitter can be a confusing and fast-paced world. All these links, all these hashtags...how’s a business to deal? The rush to jump in on convos and get noticed can be overwhelming. Despite this, we encourage you to get help or maybe do a little hashtag research before jumping into an online conversation.
Lack of research was apparent when the pizza brand DiGiorno decided to jump in on the hashtag #WhyIStayed - a hashtag used by women across the world on Twitter describing various experiences with physical and emotional domestic violence.
This caused an obvious uproar in the online world as actual victims felt mocked by the careless tweet.
DiGiorno’s social media manager later issued the below apology and spent much of the following few days individually apologizing to online users:
Again, do your hashtag research people.
While we found this look back at 2014 #MarketingFails hilariously fun, we beg of you: Think before you post, do your research, double-check your spelling, and watch those online auto-posters ... they’re tricky.