Summits Yellow

When Ads Go Wrong – Clickon shares five ad fails, from Pepsi to Burger King

Mobile Marketing

Benjamin Potter, creative director and co-founder of Clickon, looks at five recent advertising disasters and what other advertisers can learn from them.

Video in its simplest form is a series of moving images; if one picture is worth a thousand words, one video must be worth a million. When done right, the investment of creating a video ad for your brand can reap huge rewards, but when done wrong it can have catastrophic effects.

Below are lessons we can take away from the recent fails of five well-known brands, so you don’t make the same mistakes.

Play politics with caution
Pepsi’s Live for Now Moments Anthem ft. Kendall Jenner
With each passing year, Pepsi is investing more and more into its advertising. Last year, it was reported that the company spent $2.5bn worldwide, so it's baffling as to how the infamous video with Kendall Jenner slipped through the net and made its way across the globe, only to be pulled by Pepsi later on.

Having said that, the video has taught us all an important lesson - while it's important to be topical, it's even more important to play to your strengths and stick to what your brand is about. It’s also pertinent to not put out the message that we’re simply one can of soda away from peace-keeping.

Keep the messaging within your control
Burger King, Connected Whopper

Earlier this month, Burger King tried to get creative with the influx of Google Home assistants by keeping its ad to 15 seconds and instead, prompting the devices to complete the list of ingredients at home, announcing the phrase “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?”

What it didn’t take into consideration is that Google Home reads out the details from Wikipedia, a collaborative encyclopaedia. Pranksters took the site to edit the content to include some outrageous ingredients and Google turned off the functionality within three hours of its release.

It might have seemed like a good idea at the time but now, the ad doesn’t really make sense. Whilst creative, it’s wise to keep your messaging within your control, instead of in the hands of external tools, and make it accessible for all viewers - not just those who own a Google Home device.

You can never be too sensitive
Kurl-on and Malala Yousafzai mattress ad
Put together some of the brightest advertising brains and you’s think you will be left with a successful campaign, right? Wrong.

The usually spot-on team at Ogilvy and Kurl-on had to resort to apologising left, right and centre after releasing a tasteless campaign depicting the Taliban shooting Malala Yousafzai, all in an effort to sell mattresses.

Before deciding to dish out your marketing budget on a fruitless video campaign, consider the implications of your content and how they will be perceived; you can never be too sensitive.

Don’t scrimp on storytelling
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, Chinese New Year 2017
Videos with an underlying story or theme are extremely effective: strong narratives get consumers talking! I suppose this is perhaps what Mercedes-Benz in Malaysia was attempting to do but the story falls flat and misses the mark.

Define your purpose and keep it simple when rolling your plan out in video. There’s no need for elaborate storylines that don’t make any real sense.

Inclusivity is key
Subway, Fresh Fit

What once may have worked in the past, may not now. Over time, social mentalities change. The objectification of women doesn’t sit well within branded content in this day and age - especially when it comes to selling sandwiches.

Ads with overtly sexualised protagonists are going to come in for a lot of criticism. It’s best to keep the content relatively gender-neutral, as this also increases your chances of resonating with a wider audience.

Benjamin Potter is creative director and co-founder of Clickon