Social Media Marketing Gone Wrong: Lessons Learned from Famous Fails

Social media has become a critical aspect of modern-day marketing. Any business that wants to appeal to a wider audience has dabbled in social media marketing. That doesn’t mean to say that it’s not without its challenges.


Over the years, many big names and household brands have experienced a marketing fail that has left those very brands reeling. From insensitive posts to ill-conceived campaigns, these missteps might be a good laugh for the public, but they can have a lasting impact on the brands’ reputation.




One of the most infamous social media marketing fails occurred in 2017 when Pepsi released an ad featuring Kendall Jenner that was widely criticised for its tone-deaf messaging. The ad showed Jenner participating in a protest and handing a can of Pepsi to a police officer, seemingly implying that the power of Pepsi could bring about unity and end social unrest.


The ad was quickly pulled after an overwhelming backlash on social media, with many accusing the company of trivialising important social issues.




Another example of social media marketing gone wrong is the infamous McDonald’s “Rick and Morty” promotion in 2017. The fast-food giant collaborated with the popular cartoon show for a limited-edition sauce, which resulted in chaos at McDonald’s restaurants across the country as fans lined up for hours to get their hands on the sauce.


It’s safe to say that fans were definitely not loving it. The campaign was criticised for being poorly planned and executed, and McDonald’s ultimately issued an apology for the shortage of sauce and the negative impact it had on customers.


What about the small brands?


But what about the smaller brands? Well, it’s not just the big brands that have made social media marketing missteps. Mistakes just happen to be seen on a wider scale for larger brands.


Smaller brands have also fallen victim to embarrassing mistakes. In 2015, a small clothing company called Sunny Co Clothing launched a giveaway on Instagram, promising a free swimsuit to every person who reposted a photo of one of their swimsuits and tagged the company. Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it was.


The campaign quickly went viral, with thousands of people reposting the photo. However, the company was unprepared for the overwhelming response, and many customers were left waiting months for their free swimsuits. The company eventually had to rescind the offer and issue an apology.


Lesson learned?


So, what can we learn from these marketing fails?


The most important message to take from this – be sensitive to cultural and social issues. It might sound like a good idea at the time, but it’s probably best to think about it before you press post. When it comes to serious topics, promoting your products should be done with caution. More often than not, this type of marketing can come across as insincere or even offensive


As we said, think about it before you post, campaigns should be thoroughly planned and executed to avoid any unexpected backlash or negative customer experiences. You can’t always prepare for a backlash, but you can be prepared to deal with the consequences.


Social Media is a powerful marketing tool when it’s done with care and a bit of creative flare, but that’s not to say it’s not without its pitfalls. A post that seems in good taste might not always be welcomed by the public.


Why work with us?


You cannot account for every potential risk, and you cannot always predict how the public will react, but you can be sensitive in your marketing approach. At Social Buzzing, we work closely with you to understand your brand and your audience. We aim to provide value to both you and your audience.

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