Salt & Pepper #11 - Biggest Brand Fails of 2015

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Happy December everyone, and congratulations on making it through another year!  Hopefully your 2015 has been full of promise, positivity . . . and no Brand Fails!  This month on Salt & Pepper, we take a look our favorite, er, most notorious Brand Fails of 2015.  So here are our takes (written independently of each other of course.) We also want to hear from you!

Salt - Kirby Hasseman:

When we decided to debate the “Biggest Brand Fail of 2015,” I was excited.  I thought, “How hard can that be?”  Little did I know.  First, as you might suspect, there were more than a few.  Second, they cycle through our 24 hour news media so fast, that you might have forgotten a few of these.  Don’t worry . . .  I will remind you.  Here are my “3 biggest brand fails of 2015.”

3.  From Ketchup to What?!:  Heinz Ketchup ran a contest that allowed customers to submit their own ideas for labels for packaging.  They did so by putting a QR code on the bottles.  Unfortunately they let the domain lapse and a German Porn creator purchased the domain.  So when you scan the code on the bottle, you got a lot more than you bargained for.  Yikes.

2.  "Rape Us Now":  This keeps it very recent.  A Singapore retailer, SuperGurl, should have known that you NEVER post anything that resembles a joke about rape, but they did (more here).  Needless to say they had to apologize (sort of).  The bigger fail might have been the apology that said the brand didn't "mean for it to be offensive to anyone.”  Really?

1.  VW Epic Fail:  I struggled with this because it’s not “marketing” per se.  It was an operational,  PR, manufacturing, and leadership failure, but as you (hopefully) know, in today’s world, that all falls under the umbrella of marketing.  For those unaware, VW created a procedure to improve their clean diesel testing results when being tested.  Turns out it was a fraud.  So yes, that would be my number 1 Brand Fail of 2015.

That sums up my biggest Brand Fails of 2015!  What say you Mr. Pepper?

Pepper - Bill Petrie:

With all the various media outlets (traditional and social) for marketers to utilize, what could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, plenty! With so many brand fails to choose from, it’s really hard to pick a clear winner. Having said that, here are my top three:

3. An IHOP Joke Gone Horribly Wrong: Twitter is always a source of potential fails when it comes to promoting a brand. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, the breakfast chain sent out a tweet with a picture of pancakes that also doubled as an insult to flat-chested women – you can view it here. Of course, the tweet was deleted shortly after it was sent, but the damage was done and the Twitterverse had a field day tearing the brand to shreds for the day.

2. Amazon’s New Holiday: PrimeDay was supposed to become a pretty big deal – to the point where Amazon was hopeful it would compete with Black Friday. In fact, Amazon touted its big one day sale as better than Black Friday. Unfortunately, it was a giant black eye for the company as shoppers stayed up last to be first in line for “amazing technology deals” only to be severely disappointed by the lack of true savings. My personal favorite: a PlayStation 4 console normally $399.99 “discounted” for PrimeDay to
$399.95 – a whopping $0.04 savings. If want to have a giggle, search Twitter for #PrimeDayFail and you’ll get an idea of the other disappointments. Amazon, we expect more from you.

1. Bud Light is the Perfect Beer for WHAT?:  The brewer’s marketing campaign of “Up For Whatever” has been everywhere in 2015. To support the marketing, the self-proclaimed King of Beers decided to add 140 character “scroll messages” to bottles in an effort to garner Twitter activity. While most were benign, one seemed to encourage something a bit more untoward with the slogan reading, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary.” It was called everything from “offensive” to “promoting
alcohol-fueled rape culture” by the online community. After the outcry, Bud Light stated they “missed the mark” giving a new meaning to the phrase, “Ya think?!?”

So what say you PromoKitchen friends - What are your favorite #BrandFail moments of 2015?