Lessons Learnt From The Top 3 Advertising Fails Of 2017 (So Far)

One of the most common fears I find amongst my fellow media and communication peers is a fear of failure when entering the professional workplace. Don’t fret, here’s proof that sometimes even professionals with years of industry experience, supported by a team of hundreds with a million-dollar budget can also make mistakes. Below are the lessons we can learn from the top three advertising fails of 2017 – so far.


  1.     Kendall Jenner and Pepsi

Number one on our list is Pepsi’s tactless advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner of multi billion dollar Kardashian empire fame. The ad stars Kendall leaving a modelling shoot after she notices a protest passing by outside. She is shown to bring peace to the rally by cracking open a cold one for a policeman to ruptures of applause and celebration. Kendall Jenner’s done it folks, she’s singlehandedly solved police brutality!

Lesson Learnt

The advertisement has been panned by critics and the Internet for being insensitive and tone-deaf. Pepsi attempts to ride on the coattails of the recent Black Lives Matter protests simply to sell fizzy drinks. The catastrophic misstep has led to a backlash of such intensity that the advertisement was pulled with Pepsi issuing an apology. Pepsi’s mistake has reinforced to the industry that trying to turn a profit off the back of the unhappy reality of others is never a good look.


  1.     Dove’s Curvy Bottle

Dove’s branding in recent years has focused on encouraging women to embrace their “real beauty”. Dove’s most recent foray into this department has seen them release “Real Beauty Bottles”, a range of body wash bottles produced in different shapes and sizes. The campaign encourages consumers to pick the bottle shape that best matches their own body. If Dove hadn’t released this innovative line, would we, as simple consumers, have ever realised that everyone’s body shape and size is different? A truly mind boggling conundrum.

Lesson Learnt

The customer comes first. Dove’s inauthentic money making ploy, above all, does not consider their customer. How is anyone meant to use a bottle shaped like this?!

Dove 2


  1. Skittles Mother’s Day

Skittles advertising approach has always been a bit unconventional. Up until recently, it’s worked in their favour. Their Mother’s Day advertisement, however, was nothing short of a disaster. The nightmare inducing ad features a mother and her adult son sitting on the couch with the son guessing the flavour of Skittles he is being fed. All harmless fun until it is revealed the son is being fed Skittles through the rather unconventional method of an umbilical cord.

Lesson Learnt

The advertisement was pulled from the company’s official YouTube and has been branded by the Internet as being “deeply disturbing” and “creepy”. Know your boundaries – there’s pushing the envelope, and then there’s putting the envelope in the shredder and setting fire to the remnants. Creativity and uniqueness are always encouraged but not to the point where it makes your audience squirm in their seat.

By Teresa Hang

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