Marketing Campaigns Gone Terribly Wrong

Ever see a marketing campaign and think to yourself “This must be a joke” or “This is so incredibly bad this must be a genius act of reverse psychology to create something so bad it’s intended to be good”?

In 2011 Boston-based chain Legal Sea Foods rolled out an ad campaign involving a series of three short commercials that mimic public service announcements:”Save the crab. Save it to show that every creature is sacred, no matter how small. Or just save it so we can chop it up into tasty little crab cakes.”


As you might suspect, activists got upset about the commercials, but the company seems to have a history of provoking them.Regardless of the intent, steering clear of environmental and animal rights issues is probably best for restaurants.

In attempt to fulfill the American dream, Pizza Hut attempted to create one of the most glutinous pizza concoctions ever with its Hot Dog Bites Pizza. The Hot Dog Bites Pizza was a “limited time offer” pizza surrounded by 28 bite-sized hot dogs baked into the crust. The pizza comes with a side of French’s classic yellow mustard, which replaces the mustard drizzle that tops other overseas versions. Needless to say, it didn’t last long and there was much criticism about the strange taste and look of the pizza.


A blogger from the Orlando Weekly writes, “I shouldn’t be feeling like I need to rush to the hospital, like my heart is about leap out of my chest because my clogged arteries forgot how to be arteries. I’ve already thrown up once today…” , he then goes on to say, “The whole adventure is a desperate struggle for satisfaction.” Personally, just looking at the picture makes me feel sick.


At least a bad tasting meal isn’t as offensive as the Anheuser-Busch BUD campaign that created major social media backlash when it slapped the tagline “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night #UpForWhatever” on the labels on Bud Light bottles.


The news of the campaign traveled fast, with countless people accusing the company of promoting rape culture. The public took to twitter to let Bud know exactly how they felt.


One person even suggesting that the marketing department should be fired.


The company later admitted that they “missed the mark, and regret it.” The brand later issued a longer statement attributed to Alexander Lambrecht, vice president of Bud Light: “The Bud Light Up for Whatever campaign, now in its second year, has inspired millions of consumers to engage with our brand in a positive and light-hearted way. In this spirit, we created more than 140 different scroll messages intended to encourage spontaneous fun. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior.”


Discontent from the public continued and proved to be a PR nightmare for the brand. The campaign caused so much damage to the image of the brand, there are still tweets going around associating Bud as being the “date rape beer”. Many people still think the brand should have caught the mistake before it happened. As the voice of the consumer it’s difficult to see how it was possible for Bud not to notice how bad of an idea this was.




7 thoughts

  1. Whoever was in charge of reviewing and approving the Bud campaign was clearly asleep or not paying attention. This just reminds me of a creepy guy I knew my freshmen year of college who got arrested for drugging someone; I think most people have known someone who would think this was a great tagline. Those people should not be in marketing…ever. Some brands just spectacularly miss the mark.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I dont really how and where the marketers get these ideas from. The “most glutinous pizza concoctions ever” may delicious when eating but look kind of awkward for me.Bad marketing campaigns lead to Bad publicity that could not only damage the brand equity, impact negatively on sale but also damage the brand association. I think all department in a company should work collaboratively, especially research and design department to avoid this situation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I honestly didn’t know about the Bud PR nightmare but now that I do know about it I will forever associate the product with the misuse of #upforwhatever and how horrible that was. I realize that things can happen and people miss things but this seems like a huge mess up. I wonder how many people were emotionally affected by this? I guess a good message for the marketing department is check, double check, and check again!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article! I always think it’s interesting and entertaining to see the marketing fails. Although I don’t wish that on any company, it can be quite funny to see the things that are so blatantly obvious that are bad ideas. I had never seen the Ihop pancake tweet.. At least it was only a tweet and not an actual advertisement!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed, although sometimes it’s so bad I question if it was on purpose. I can’t believe IHOP would tweet something like that and think it was a good idea. Maybe that’s why it was only a tweet. Perhaps they figured that message would appeal to people on twitter? I honestly think that didn’t appeal to anyone positively.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is honestly a bit shocking to me. I also think that Bud should have addressed this better. Seems like this would have been a great opportunity to turn this around and be more sensitive to the backlash they received and take the comments more seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

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