Category Archives: Badvertising

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).

There are marketing fiascoes and foul-ups, and then there’s this. Back in 2010, Dr. Pepper’s British marketing agency, Lean Mean Fighting Machine, was put in charge of an online marketing campaign that targeted teens, asking them to allow Dr. Pepper to take over their Facebook page and post “embarrassing” status updates. In return they could win cash and prizes. The more embarrassing the updates you allowed Dr. Pepper to post, the more chances you had of winning the money.

What’s the worse that could happen, right?

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What people expected (of course) was to have fun – if slightly embarrassing – messages posted on their page that could be seen by their Facebook friends. What one got was something else entirely.

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At first the campaign was a rousing success. Over an eight week period, Dr. Pepper went from 1.2k to 220k Facebook likes. The marketing plan went wrong after a mother noticed that her 14-year-old girl had been Googling for an explanation of a post someone “at Dr. Pepper” had made on her page: “I watched 2 girls one cup and felt hungry afterwards.” Mother didn’t know what it meant either, until she Googled it and saw that the infamous scat-fetish pornographic film in question had been posted on her daughter’s Facebook page.

As you can imagine, the ca-ca hit the fan (so to speak). The girl’s mom rained holy hell on Coca Cola (who owns Dr. Pepper). Coca Cola immediately pulled the plug on the campaign, apologized for the disaster and announced an investigation into its online advertising procedures.

Soon afterward, Lean Mean Fighting Machine (unsurprisingly) lost the Coke account – which they’d only had for three months.

The mistake that the brand agency made was in assuming that their target market were savvy Internet users like them, who would get the “two girls” reference without digging too deep. But just because everyone who participated were using the Internet, that doesn’t mean that they do so in the same way as a marketing guy at a brand agency. Not everyone knows about memes.

Ironically, the quote from the terms of service on the Dr. Pepper Facebook Fan Page read: “We encourage you to post comments, photos, videos, and links here. But please behave. We may monitor and remove inappropriate, offensive or any other postings.”

Unless they post the offensive material themselves, of course.

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? YOU DECIDE! Back in the summer of 2010, basketball superstar LeBron “The King” James…Continue Reading

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. But lately it’s…Continue Reading

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. brewer behind Anheuser-Busch and Miller) tried to get the party started by…Continue Reading

Badvertising: Too Funky Fresh?

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we examine what happens when corporations try to be too clever with their marketing—and get busted big time. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Sony PlayStation’s Fake Fan Site (and its bad spin) Back in 2006, a guy who went only by the name of “Charlie” created…Continue Reading

Badvertising: Crimes and Misdemeanors!

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we examine the time that American Apparel made a very odd flirt with celebrity endorsement. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! American Apparel’s Weird Woody Allen Billboard When one thinks of American Apparel’s approach to marketing one usually envisions soft-core porn photos of scantily-clad women in provocative…Continue Reading

Badvertising: High-flying Hijinks

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we look at pranks posing as promotions and the cons of using controversy to market your wares. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Spirit Airline’s Slippery Oil Promotion It’s a fine line between trying to be cute and trying to drum up free publicity by creating a…Continue Reading

Badvertising: What’s Up, Doc?

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we examine Pfizer’s bogus doctor ads starring Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the artificial heart. Funny thing is, Jarvik never practiced medicine. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Pfizer’s Physician Pflim-Pflam Pfiasco “I’m glad I take Lipitor, as a doctor and a dad. Lipitor is one of the most researched…Continue Reading

Badvertising: Plane Wrong

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we look at what happens when you exploit one tragedy in order to draw attention to another one. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! The World Wildlife Fund’s 9/11 Major Fail Warm and fuzzy thoughts about endangered animals. A mission to save the planet. Cute little panda logo.…Continue Reading

Badvertising: Just Kidding Around

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we examine what happens when a company decides to act as their own advertising, design, marketing, and copywriting services agency. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! St. Louis Cremation’s Weird, Confusing, Creepy, Kid Ads Probably the last thing you want is for people to call you up…Continue Reading

Digital Strategy by MadPipe
Photography by Chellise Michael

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