The Inbox / 5 of the biggest marketing fails of 2015

5 of the biggest marketing fails of 2015

What better way to kick off the new year than to learn from the mistakes of the last? Here's our pick of 2015's biggest, most confusing and simply inexplicable marketing fails.


1. Coca-Cola’s #MakeItHappy campaign
The well-intentioned #MakeItHappy campaign was a simple concept – users could use the hashtag to turn Twitter hate into ‘happy’ pictures of things like dogs and smiley faces. Unfortunately, the tool did not filter which text it converted into images, and Gawker was able to turn passages from Hitler’s Mein Kampf into ASCII art. Coca-Cola later removed the tool.

2. Bloomingdale’s creepy catalogue
American department store chain Bloomingdale’s was forced to apologise in November for a page in its Christmas catalogue. Social media users were shocked to find a photo of a man watching a laughing woman, with the caption: “Spike your best friend’s eggnog while they’re not looking.” The firm said it had made an “error in judgement”.

3. The Man in the High Castle subway campaign
Ahead of the release Amazon Prime Video’s new original series The Man in the High Castle, the streaming service launched a striking advertising campaign that plastered New York subway cars in Nazi-inspired imagery. The city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, asked the firm to remove the “irresponsible and offensive” ads, which were promptly taken down.

4. Airbnb’s passive-aggressive bus stop adverts
When questions were raised over Airbnb users’ tax contributions, the firm decided to set the record straight with San Francisco bus stop adverts that said things like: “Dear Public Library System, we hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later.” After offended residents complained, the ads were taken down.

5. #BackToTheFutureDay
October 21st 2015, otherwise known as Back to the Future Day, offered fans of the trilogy a chance to celebrate their geekiness together on social media. Unfortunately, every brand from Greggs to KLM jumped on the bandwagon, and movie lovers were subjected to some awful attempts to shoehorn companies and products into Marty and Doc’s world.