Three major marketing blunders of 2015

Following a year of football corruption, emissions scandals and tax dodging coffee conglomerates, businesses are now trying harder than ever to keep up appearances. However, they do not always succeed. Our twelve days of Christmas blog series would not be complete without a rundown of some of the top marketing blunders of 2015. So grab a mug of mulled wine, pick out your favourite Quality Street and check out what not to do next year.


By Kirsty McMahon


#1 Think like a man


Bic South Africa took to Twitter in August 2015 to join in the celebrations of the nation’s Women’s Day, but it seems the marketing team didn’t quite think it through. Donning the slogan, “Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man,” the company received massive backlash on the ground of sexism.

You would think a company that had already faced the same issues with its pink “for her” pens in 2012 would have learned its lesson... apparently not.


#2 Dear San Francisco


Online accommodation leader, Airbnb was forced to issue an apology in October after realising too late that its billboard advertising campaign deployed across San Francisco was probably in poor taste.


In an attempt to congratulate itself on paying compulsory corporate taxes, Airbnb created a series of billboards with suggestions on what the region should be spending the taxes on, with requests ranging from keeping art in schools to the slightly bizarre suggestion to put escalators on all San Franciscan hills.

Maybe, like the rest of us, next time they pay their taxes, they should just give themselves a pat on the back.


#3 Too saucy, even for Heinz


Last summer, our favourite sauce manufacturer was forced to apologise for an understandably mortifying mistake concerning an expired QR code and a very inappropriate website.


A few years ago, Heinz ran a competition to allow customers to design their own Heinz Tomato Ketchup label, using a website accessed through a QR code found on its bottles. Unfortunately for British expat Daniel Korrell, who attempted to access the website this year, the link had expired and had since been purchased by an adult entertainment group and well, you can imagine the rest.
If anything warrants a lifetime supply of ketchup, it is this embarrassing blunder.


Funny as they are, these blunders could have easily been avoided by employing strategic thinking and encouraging feedback from different departments in the company. I hope that 2016 will be a year when strategy and creativity work together instead of against each other.

Kirsty McMahon

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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