Thumbs Down: 37 Posts About Crappy Marketing (and What You Can Do Better)

In the olden days, if your marketing sucked you got fed to the lions or stabbed! Glad I didn’t live in Rome during those times. I prefer just being embarrassed by a low tweet count. (Image source)

Mistakes provide invaluable learning experiences. But why make more of your own when you should learn from the bloopers of others? Beyond laughing, crying (from laughing), and letting your jaw drop to the floor, embrace every bad marketing moment as inspiration to make your brand better.

With this roundup of some of the roughest marketing “don’t” moments, you’re guaranteed at least a few laughs. Between the chuckles, however, embrace these mistakes as a learning experience. After all, even the smartest marketers have bad days. Yes, even this bad.

We can all do better, and here’s how.

What the Heck Is Going On?

i have no idea what’s going on here… (Image source)

A question that you never, ever want your prospective customers to ask.

1. Marketing Ideas Gone Bad and How to Avoid Them

Whatever you do, don’t confuse your customers, and don’t tell them they’re confused either. Keep logos consistent, deliver sales pitches up-front, and portray your customers as intelligent and empowered.

2. Photos from the Street: 3 Bad Marketing Examples

What good is a banner if it doesn’t communicate basic information? What value does your company provide, and how much do your services cost? Give your audiences enough of a hint to pick up the phone and call (or launch Outlook and bounce over an email).

3. How Your Website’s Crappy Usability Is Costing You Sales

People are more than just clicks and conversions.

4. How to Keep Bad Headlines from Burying Your Content

“Newsflash: Students Cook and Serve Grandparents” among other gems.

5. 21 of the Worst Marketing Flops, Follies, and Faux Pas

Is soda supposed to taste like ham, green bean casserole, or dirt? What happened to grape, orange, and lemon-lime?

6. The 7 Worst Online Ad Placements of All Time

It’s all about context.

7. The 5 Most Annoying Banner Ads on the Internet

As expected, ‘Win a Free Thing’ made the list.

8. 3 Really Bad Internet Marketing Mistakes I Bet You’re Making

This HubSpot post from 2008 will help you realize how timeless good principles of web design are, despite how technology changes. “People usually don’t even have calls to action to their site.”

9. How to Stop Relying on Vanity Metrics

Don’t get lost in a sea of irrelevant data. Focus on what’s most important for your conversions.

Why’d Everyone Leave the Party?

Obviously, this brand is hopelessly un-fun. (Image source)

10. Don’t Be a Robot

This social media dos and don’ts list reminds us to stay personable. After all, people want to engage with the humans behind the wall of your brand — the robot just doesn’t compare. If you’re holding back your voice, you’re doing your customers a major disservice.

11. 13 Landing Pages to Scare the Crap Out of You

A Friday the 13th classic brought to you by Unbounce’s Oli Gardner. These designs will render you speechless (in a jaw-dropping yet comical way).

12. 7 Lessons from Bad Social Media Marketing Campaigns

“I don’t care how compelling you or your product is, no one is going to scan a QR code (not even the passenger) when driving down the freeway.”

13. The 10 Worst Ad Campaigns of All Time

Lesson learned: don’t mess with the moms.

14. The Internet’s Most Annoying Campaigns

Always prioritize UX. Otherwise, you’ll scare people from your ads and product. Then what?

15. The 5 Most Annoying Online Ads

There’s a way to reconcile advertising with positive brand experiences. These aren’t it.

16. The 10 Most Annoying Online Viral Marketing Campaigns of All Time

What do you think? Can a viral campaign really be annoying? What about Hamster Dance? Wait, that wasn’t a campaign… or was it?

17. Will Marketing Muck Up Social Media?

Do you think that marketers are messing up social media? Obviously, there should be a balance, but what’s the ideal?

18. Social Media Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts

Know the rules before jumping in the pool.

19. The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media Updates

Follow all of these tips, and you’ll have an exceptional brand page.

20. What Not to Share on Twitter or LinkedIn

Especially for brands. Oh boy.

21. 7 Sins of Content Marketing

Learn what not to do to really rock your strategy.

22. Mobile Marketing Gone Bad

Stay on your customers’ good side.

23. The Top Five Mobile Marketing Mistakes

Save time and money by knowing what to expect ahead of time.

Did that Seriously Just Happen?

Instant deal-breakers. (Image source)

24. Chick-fil-A’s ‘Alleged’ Fake Facebook Profiles

Making fake Facebook profiles to defend your company’s controversial and questionable political agenda? Definite don’t. Not even with a 10-foot pole — just don’t.

25. Did NBC Just Air an Extremely Racist Commercial?

It is imperative that marketers look-before-they-launch. Intentional or not, images and words have connotations beyond their face-value meanings.

26. 6 Horrible Ad Campaigns (Presumably) By People With Marketing Degrees

Singing rodents, uncomfortably questionable innuendo, and ladies rubbing glue sticks on their foreheads. Who could want more? (Hint: Nobody)

27. 15 Worst Marketing Blunders of All-Time

Marketing don’ts happen across mediums and eras. Have fun with these.

28. 9 Poorly Conceived Marketing Campaigns

This post guarantees at least one ‘l-o-l.’

29. Some More Good, Bad, and Ugly

Not sure how to feel about the last video (oh yes, there’s video) on that list. It’s so terrible that it’s kind of…amazing? Oh, and divorce lawyer is kind of scary.

30. Top 10 Worst Marketing Gaffes Ever

“The Whopper virgins have spoken.” Awesome! Thanks, Burger King!

31. Ad Targeting Bloopers

Content matching gone wrong.

Be Careful What You Say

It may come back to haunt you (Image source)

32. The Science of Slogans: The Best and Worst Ad Campaigns of All Time

The perspective is in the eye of the beholder. What’s your take?

33. Worst Ad Campaign of the Year? Sheets Energy Strips

Terrible, terrible puns on the word “sheet.”

34. Brand #Fail

How should companies handle and make the most of inevitable consumer criticism?

35. The 10 “Don’ts” of Corporate Social Media

Long story short, the “dos” are all about people.

36. The Internet’s Greatest Marketing Bloopers

Be careful when you geotarget your product ads. You never know who’s actually looking.

37. 3 Social Media Marketing Bloopers [and What We Should Learn from Them

When lack of transparency bites back…

Your Thoughts

What marketing “don’ts” are missing from this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

— Ritika Puri

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About Ritika Puri
Ritika Puri is a Los Angeles based marketing and business blogger who writes about trends in data, internet culture, and entrepreneurship. She's inspired by the intersection between technology and sociology.
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