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15 Epic Marketing Fails [Funny]

Sometimes it’s so obvious you can’t see what you’re doing wrong.

Every now and then, you need to look at some really bad marketing to know that you’re doing it right. Or just to laugh at the stupidity of advertisers and ad placement people (what are they called?).

So to follow up on our last “bad marketing” post – 13 Epic Marketing Fails – I’m going to expose a few classic faux pas as a warning to be extra careful when you put an ad out to the world.

Today’s categories:

  • Ad placement fails: When combining your ad with another causes chaos.
  • Acronym fails: If you’re going to make an acronym for your name or event, please, please please double check what it means.
  • Miscellaneous horrible marketing: These can’t be categorized – except maybe with the word WRONG.

Enjoy, cringe, laugh, cry.

Ad placement fails

1. Sign after sign fail

Before you pay through the nose for your ad placement, consider what’s coming next.

Hope is about 100m ahead in this case. I wonder how many alcoholics felt a moment of “you’re not alone” followed by, mmmmmm wine.

2. Braille fail

Ummmm. I get that it’s probably for people buying on behalf of those without sight, but the irony is somewhat ridiculous. I guess with a screen reader it could work to an extent – but paying for an ad like that? Seems kinda wrong. And really? “Never seen before?” #ouch

Touch screens don’t have bumps yet. Pick your medium when placing an ad.

3. Meth or speed?

Wow. Talk about co-marketing. These guys should go into business together. I’d love to be the dude that pastes these things on the billboards – he must have the funniest job in the world.

4. Search engine – baseball not found

Come on now! A Search engine (Yahoo) ad placed right next to section 404 in a sports stadium. Is this meta genius or just something for us to laugh at? I’m laughing FTR. But kudos to Yahoo if they specifically asked to be next to that section to try and generate some kind of viral brand exposure. #doubtful

Ball not found. Please search again.

5. Obesity for a dollar fail

Health food?… Yeah! Obesity?… No! McDonalds FTW!!! I mean really. Is the goal to confuse people? Or just cause arguments in minivans between parents and children.

6. Bad timing Twitter fail

I have to give them points for having an electronic banner with a live Twitter stream. And congratulate the photo taker for their epic timing. Doesn’t look so good for those 3 news anchors tho.

Acronym fails

7. WTF were you thinking?

Surely you could rearrange this and it would still make sense, right? Must be a generation gap thing.

8. Overemphasis fail

Okay, so you accidentally have a bad acronym for your business. Don’t make it worse! Although it’s probably a very effective interruption marketing technique, whether intended or not.

9. Ride the what?!

How could you not catch this one? I’m starting to think there’s a movement of inappropriate interruption ad companies that rely on creating controversy. #conspiracytheory

And with the row of women below the ad! Could it really be any worse?

10. Don’t bring this guy home to mom

Really? You are so old you don’t know what this means? My version: Memories I‘d Like to Forget.

Miscellaneous horrible marketing

11. Benefit statement fail

Looking to buy a car? Keep your eyes peeled for the women’s prison, we set up shop right beside it to enhance our trust value.

12. Naming fail

I heard someone say recently that branding and the name of your product doesn’t matter, just get it out there and see how it goes. I disagree, and this demonstrates it perfectly. How much education do you need to know that these are BANANAS!

13. Racist toothpaste?

Words #fail me…

14. Some things shouldn’t be free

I’m guessing the banner designer for this promotion got fired.

Insulting much?

15. Obvious fail

There’s only so much real estate on your packaging or landing page. Make the most of it without pointless references to things people already know. For cats? No sh*t Sherlock.

Who knew cat toys were for cats?

The world is broken…

— Oli Gardner


About Oli Gardner
Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner has seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet. He’s obsessed with identifying and reversing bad marketing practices, and his disdain for marketers who send campaign traffic to their homepage is legendary, resulting in landing page rants that can peel paint off an unpainted wall. A prolific international speaker, Oli is on a mission to rid the world of marketing mediocrity by using data-informed copywriting, design, interaction, and psychology to create a more delightful experience for marketers and customers alike. You should follow Oli on Twitter
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