Everybody Makes Mistakes, Everybody Has Those Days: More Branding Fails to Learn From

By Camren Cutuli

Some of the biggest corporate brands have had to deal with such #fails within the last six months. How comforting; million dollar companies fail sometimes too. Some slip-ups were more devastating than others, yet there’s always light to the dark, or in this case, a lesson to be learnt. Take a look and learn from the ones that have come before us young media and communication padawans.


When you thought Snapchat was not dead enough, they dug their grave a little deeper.

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Source: [image] Twitter user Royce Mann – @TheRoyceMann, March 12, 2018.

Just last month in March, Snapchat featured an ad on their newly updated and highly advertisement driven format that sparked public outrage. The advert showcased a ‘Would You Rather’ game playable through a link (or swipe up), by posing the question, “Would you rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown?” For those that don’t know, this is referencing the domestic abuse between the then dating performers in 2009 that makes light of domestic violence.

Snapchat issued an apology after an enraged public fumed on social media.

“The advert was reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines. We immediately removed the ad last weekend, once we became aware. We are sorry that this happened.”

Rihanna also took to Instagram Stories – Snapchat’s now competitor platform – to respond to the advertisement.

Now SNAPCHAT I know you already know you ain’t my fav app out there! But I’m just trying to figure out what the point was with this mess! I’d love to call it ignorance, but I know you ain’t that dumb! You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke of it!!! This isn’t about my personal feelings, cause I don’t have much of them…but all the women, children, and men that have been victims of DV in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet…you let us down! Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.

Lesson to be learnt:

Never make light of a serious political, social or untasteful situation. Humility, compassion and empathy will win far more many battles than those that rely on making fun of a humourless circumstance, especially one involving actual violence and hurt.


Twitter had a field day last Black Friday when McDonald’s failed to plan a planned post. The tweet itself read “Black Friday **** Need copy and link ****”. The person behind the keyboard on the other end of their Twitter account needless to say forgot all about editing this scheduled tweet before it went live.

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Source: [image] Twitter user McDonald’s – @McDonaldsCorp, Nov 24, 2017.

McDonald’s however did not retract the tweet, but instead took advantage of the minor mistake and highlighted it with a reply of, “When you tweet before your first cup of McCafé… Nothing comes before coffee.”

Twitter users took to their keyboards with witty responses of their own, but Wendy’s, a fellow fast-food competitor to McDonald’s, stole the show: “When the tweets are as broken as the ice cream machine.”

I’m not sure about you, but it just got a little bit darker here because of that shade.

Despite the somewhat ‘memeable’ and humorous smooth recovery, hopefully someone didn’t get fired over it.

Lesson to be learnt:

Have a social media calendar and monitor it. Check, double check and triple check scheduled tweets and posts to avoid any potential unsavoury backlash. Whilst this mistake here was quite subdued and harmless, not all can be called the same and be recovered so seamlessly.


Dove has fallen into yet another advertising scandal late last year, only months after their previous ‘real beauty bottles’ did not go over well.

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Source: [image] Facebook user Naomi Blake – @Naythemua, Oct 6, 2017.

The advert was showcasing their classic body wash in a way that took many people aback. The Facebook ad saw a set of images of a black woman removing her shirt to unveil a white woman ‘underneath’. Dove was placed heavy scrutiny for releasing an ad that was aptly accused of having racist undertones. They later admitted their mistake and sent out an apology statement outlining they ‘missed the mark’.

“An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of colour thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offence it caused.” 

Lesson to be learnt:

Admitting a mistake, especially by a big corporate mogul, is key. A humble and respectful apology, accompanied by a swift retraction is the best you can do in a crisis like this. It too wouldn’t hurt to run your ad by a diverse demographic of your consumers to see actual reactions and an implications of out-of-context messages, before they bite you later on Twitter.

[Header Image CC: “Fail” by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images].



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