Category Archives: Badvertising

Badvertising: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we look at what happens when the adults leave the children in charge. As usual, do not try this at home!

Google Maps Loses It’s Direction

You ever heard of Bugdroid Park? No? It’s located in the outskirts of Rawalpinda, Pakistan, a few miles southwest of Islamabad—at least it was there, back in April, 2015, according to Google Maps.

You can’t miss it, it’s in the shape of Bugdroid, the Google Android mascot, doing what appears to be “a number one” on the Apple logo.


Bugdroid Park never appeared on any maps before that April—so how did this lush, oddly-shaped park suddenly become manifest in Google Maps? Was it the result of some weird natural phenomenon?

To Google’s embarrassment, it was discovered to be user-created content, made via Google Map Maker, by a trusted and vetted Google Map contributor gone rogue.

But how was it not caught in time? Doesn’t Google have editors? I mean, this is Google!

Maybe this picture, located on the map a few miles east of Bugdroid Park, explains things a little better:


When User-Generated Content Generates User Problems

It seems that even all-mighty Google falls asleep at the wheel, as this wasn’t the first, or the last, time that Google Maps allowed vetted contributors to go unchecked.

Not long after the “Bugdroid Park” incident, it was found that by typing racial slurs and nasty expletives into the map’s search bar you could go to many places. For instance, typing “dumb f***” into the map’s search bar took you to places like the National Zoological Park in Delhi and the US Supreme Court—and worse. Maybe Google should redefine “vetted contributor.”

Google’s decision to allow end-users to make changes to the maps was a fine strategy, as it helped to keep the service updated. But the lack of editorial supervision created major embarrassment and bad publicity for the company just as it was gaining ground in the Google vs. Apple map wars.

Google was forced to shut down its crowd-sourced Map Maker tool for several weeks until it could fix the glitches and save face. This cost them plenty in prestige and cash.

Too Much Monkey Business

As professional marketing mavens, branding gurus, and copywriting wizards, we should all learn from Google’s mistake. The dangers in an over-reliance of unchecked user-generated and crowd-sourced content can often result in the “Infinite Monkey Theorem.” The benefits of crowdsourcing are often touted (“a million minds at work on a single idea!”), but there’s little hard evidence of effective branding or copywriting results coming from it.


To keep better control of online content it’s always better to hire one copywriter than trying to build an army of typing monkeys.

Jim recalls a priceless piece of advice that an English teacher once gave him. Throwing a dictionary onto his desk he said, “All of the words are in there, Yoakum, just put them in the right order.” Putting the right words in the right order has been Jim’s goal ever since, and he has honed his skills over the years to include award-winning copywriting, the scripting of three produced movies, the authoring of numerous novels and non-fiction books—and even a stint as writing partners with the late Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame. He is also US Curator of Chapman’s archives. To make himself even more insufferable, Jim has also produced comedy CDs and DVDs. While Jim does not lament his misspent youth, playing drums in a rock ‘n’ roll band, he does however wish he had back all of those brain cells that he ruthlessly killed.

Badvertising: Bad Medicine?

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we look at how a corporate retail giant rebuffed demands to withdraw a questionable product. As usual, do not try this at home!

Target Gets Needled For Selling Syringe Pens

In a rare instance of corporate chutzpah, retail giant Target decided to fight back against a public outcry to pull ink pens in the shape of syringes from its shelves.

Badvertising: Flag Flap

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising, we remind ourselves of the power of social media. As usual, do not try this at home!

PacSun’s Upside-Down Flag Shirt

PacSun had to wave the white flag after their controversial upside-down American flag shirt outraged shoppers.

Badvertising: Pale Ale-ibi

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising, we examine what happens when you take a revered leader’s image, turn him into a cartoon robot, and use it to sell beer. As usual, do not try this at home!

New England Brewing Company & the Gandhi-Bot

When I think refreshment, I think of, say, a crisp India Pale Ale.

Badvertising: Urban Outfitters’ Bloody Sweatshirt

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising, we discuss the time Urban Outfitters “went there” with their highly questionable Kent State University “vintage” sweatshirt. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

Urban Outfitters’ Kent State Sweatshirt Had People Seeing Red

On May 4th, 1970, four unarmed Kent State students were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard.

Badvertising: Pop Goes the Account!

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we discuss why marketing agencies should always know their target audience, and why businesses need to know their marketing agencies. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

Two Girls, One Cup (of Dr. Pepper).

Badvertising: It’s All a Matter of Perspective.

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we discuss why art directors need to observe the proper use of kerning type. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

Esurance’s Bad Typographic Embarassment.

In the fall of 2014, Esurance learned the hard way (no pun intended) that one should look at their ads from all angles when a seemingly innocuous billboard that read:

Looked like this when viewed from another angle:

When someone tweeted an image of the sign that had been Photoshopped in order to make it more clearly say “dick” the Internet went wild:

“God, I hope it isn’t ‘shopped,” wrote one guy  “ ‘Cover your home in a dick’  might be the greatest corporate slogan since Wendy’s dropped ‘Where’s the beef?’ ”

Hey @esurance, I think you meant “click” and not “dick”.

Badvertising: The Ego Has Landed.

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we look at the importance of managing public image, and question whether “any publicity is good publicity” is true or not. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

LeBron James’ PR Stunt: Fail? Success?

Badvertising: Peaches and Golden Suds

In this installment of MarketSmiths Badvertising, we’ll take a look at why one of the world’s largest beer brands felt the need to pick on the little guys. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

Although it’s now owned by Belgian-based InBev, Budweiser remains among the most iconic brands in America.

Badvertising: “Party on, eh!”

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we examine what happens when big corporations fumble at social media. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

Molson’s Facebook Fail

Back in 2007, at the dawning of social media, Molson Coors Brewing (the third-largest U.S.

Digital Strategy by MadPipe

UX by Lucy Dotson

Photography by Chellise Michael

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