Marketing fails have been around as long as advertising itself; I’d be surprised if people weren’t laughing at badly worded newspaper ads centuries ago. Unfortunately, any mistake made in today’s world is difficult, or even impossible to get away from – social media never lets you forget.

Our top 5 social media fails!

5. SeaWorld #AskSeaWorld

Unless you’re massively popular, social media Q&As are very rarely a good idea. And certainly if the business you run is in any way morally questionable, inviting people to ask you questions is a pretty appalling idea.

Despite this, SeaWorld decided that the best way to counter the negative publicity they’ve received for years was by running their very own version:

The internet reacted exactly as you would expect:



The lesson here is pretty obvious: if there are any ethical issues surrounding your company, the internet will not be nice to you.

4. Martin Luther King Day

This one should be pretty obvious, yet we still see this year upon year. Using holidays and annual celebrations as a marketing tool for your company is fine, but you need to make sure you’re respectful. We wrote about this earlier in specific regard to small religious festivals, but it’s equally as appropriate for secular holidays.

Martin Luther King Day is an important and meaningful day, where people look at the real issues facing society. Using it as a backdrop for an advertising campaign might not be the best idea:

By all means embrace celebrations, but put a little thought into it first!

3. Pepsi Max

We’re all about some good natured competition, but there’s a limit. I’m not entirely sure where the line is, but I’d guess it’s somewhere before you start sharing images of a voodoo doll Cristiano Ronaldo being decapitated by a train a la Pepsi Max:

There was a huge negative response to this very ill-thought  through campaign, leading Pepsi Max Sweden to pull the images and apologise.

2. Delta

It’s great to get on board with major sporting events. Not only is it enjoyable, but it’s an easy and fun marketing idea. If you decide to do this, make sure you consider googling any countries you might reference so you don’t make the mistake of Delta.

They decided to tweet images representing both the US (The Statue of Liberty) and Ghana (giraffes). Unfortunately for the airline, giraffes are not native to Ghana; the image in question was a stock photo of Kenya, a country over a thousand miles away.

People weren’t happy, and rightly mocked the company’s social media team for their ignorant cultural awareness.

1. Epicurious

The number one rule of social media marketing should be: Do not exploit a tragedy. Apparently that’s a message that some people still need to hear, going by this tweet from cooking site Epicurious:

After a backlash on Twitter, the company apologised for their complete lack of sensitivity and attempt to sell product on the back of a huge tragedy. The original tweet has since been deleted.

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