Television commercials are one of the marketing strategies that have become popular during the last decades and that have taken on a new meaning with the arrival of new technologies. These can be incredibly eye-catching, yet not everyone gets the attention of consumers. Some have been so bad that they even became offensive to their target audience, and in those cases the best a company can do is remove all trace of the video on the Internet and pretend it never happened.
In this article, we’ll show you 5 of those commercials and help you avoid making the same mistakes as these companies.
Audi’s Chinese commercial.
It is unlikely that you will remember this commercial, because it was broadcast only in China and in the year 2017 (about 2 years ago). At first glance the scene is too strange, you can see the wedding of a couple to which suddenly comes running an older woman (presumably the mother-in-law by the groom) who begins to examine his new daughter-in-law thoroughly in a rather comical way. After an uncomfortable exploration process, the mother-in-law approves the bride, but as she moves away she notices her breasts. After that, the commercial begins to talk about the new Audi model that is promoted with the phrase “an important decision must be taken with great care”.
This did not please the Asian public at all. Although the company thought it was something intelligent and daring, most of the public saw it as something in bad taste because the company compared women as if they were an old car. In addition to this, they felt that it was a way of saying that the day-to-day relationships in China were like this (dominated by the mother-in-law, with the sole purpose of male sastifation and solely based on the physical). This culminated in an attempt at a boycott by the Asian public that caused the company to crash.
The company had to apologize to the Chinese public because they said it was a big misunderstanding and did not demonstrate the true values of the company.
What went wrong: Misunderstood or not, Audi could have avoided all this controversy by first having some kind of proof shot with the target audience, thus preventing the commercial from having an inadequate reception within the public and could have altered those things that were considered disrespectful to them. This would have spared them the misunderstanding and public relations scandal and attempted boycott that this carries with it.
Burger King publication.
We’ve talked before about how ingenious Burger King’s company often is when it comes to marketing its products within different markets, most of the time spent making jokes and laughs at the expense of its competitors. However, sometimes these jokes get out of hand to the company, causing a small (or a large) part of its public to get angry with them, even reaching the threat of boycotting their restaurants and not consuming again within the chain.
One of these examples was the post en instagram of the restaurant chain to promote its line of hamburgers called “tastes of the world”. These hamburgers represented the flavor of a country and all its culture. Of the four hamburgers, the strangest and “exotic” was one with a Vietnamese flavor. It shared its name with a well-known Vietnamese city and was accompanied by chopsticks.
To promote this hamburger, Burger King released a 7-second video on the instagram of its New Zealand subsidiary that showed some people trying to eat this hamburger using chopsticks gracefully. Although the target audience (New Zealand) perceived it as normal, though not particularly funny, it was not the same when the Vietnamese discovered the ad. Both Vietnamese, Koreans and Japanese started denouncing the company’s Facebook page and instagram, filling it with negative comments and saying that they would never eat a single company hamburger again in their lifetime. This is because they were making fun of their customs and it seemed that the company was being insensitive to them.
This could be seen both on social networks like Facebook and twitter and those exclusive to the Chinese people, in which even the government was considering boycotting the company.
With all that pressure on them, Burguer King had to apologize to the Chinese government media, remove the ad and end the campaign immediately. To this day, few footage of the campaign has been preserved.
What went wrong: The main problem was inappropriately applying something from a foreign culture. It is important that when showing a culture different from that of the target audience, you should be as respectful as possible, this way you avoid falling into a phenomenon known as “disrespectful cultural appropriation” damaging not only the image of your company and your brand, but also gaining the apathy of an entire niche market quite large.
Go-Daddy is a company dedicated to the sale of hosting services on the Internet. For the 49th Superbowl they had planned to make a very adorable advertising spot. The spot started with a puppy which fell off a truck. The dog began to run through many places trying to get back home, endure rains, scorching sun, wind against him and a lot of obstacles. After overcoming all those obstacles the dog finally arrives at the farm with its owners, but unfortunately they had already sold it on a website they built with Go-Daddy sending it away again.
Although the company approved the commercial and thought it was going to be a great idea, puppy lovers and animalists didn’t see it that way. The commercial seemed too insensitive to his eyes and too unpleasant.
The controversy reached such a point that many of his clients decided to change their websites to other companies, even went so far as to create a campaign in the popular site change.org in which the U.S. government was required that this spot never happen on television. This campaign collected 42 thousand signatures in a couple of hours, and at the end of them the company decided to erase the commercial and the CEO of the company personally apologized.
What went wrong: The main problem in this case is that the company wanted to emotionally manipulate its target audience, which went wrong because they felt the opposite. The commercial more than being a tender love story and overcoming became a kind of story about how humans are selfish, besides it is in bad taste because it put in a pretty bad situation many animal owners. In order for you to avoid this, what you should do is simply think very carefully about the campaign before putting it into practice and not try to emotionally manipulate your target audience.
The cell phone war between Samsung and Iphone is one that has existed since the launch of the first Iphone in 2007. It is therefore no surprise to anyone that at some point, one of the two companies carried out a marketing campaign whose key was to launch hatred of the other brand. The first to launch the stone was Samsung.
This commercial showed a guy who had bought all the iphone since 2007, but over the years is testimony to all the bad market practices that Apple does, so just before the launch of the Iphone X, the guy changes his mind and buys a Galaxy Note.
The commercial although annoying to some was not a big problem. The real problem was the company itself. Two years later Samsung released the Galaxy Note 10 which brought something Samsung had never done before: They had eliminated the Jack input for the headphones.
In the above mentioned commercial they showed in a certain scene that one of the disadvantages of the Iphone is that it was worse because it didn’t have a Jack input for headphones, it was basically eating its own medicine.
Because of this mistake, Samsung had to remove this commercial from virtually all its social networks 5 months before the release of Galaxy Note 10.
What went wrong: No doubt in this case what went wrong was a planning error on the part of the company. Although not really a bad thing, companies change with the passage of time and with them their own philosophies. Even so, it is important to be consistent with what is preached, not only from the mouth to the outside, but in general terms to act in accordance with the values of the company.
We all know the carbonated drink Pepsi, is one of the main competitions that exist in the market for coca-cola. However, on some occasions it has made unwise marketing decisions that have led it to lose a large segment of its consumers. An example of these bad market decisions is its 2015 commercial.
The idea was to bring together the rebellion of the current generation, showing images of different protests in different parts of the world. The center of the commercial was the Kendal Jenner model. Inside the commercial it gave a can of Pepsi to a policeman in the middle of a protest. At first everything seemed to be going well, but the complaints were not long in coming. A large part of the internet began to say that Pepsi was only trying to take advantage of social struggles, that he had no real interest in supporting those struggles, and besides that Kendal’s gesture of annoying the police, instead of a Protestant, felt like a kind of mockery or support by Pepsi for a government power structure, feeling that they greatly simplified how protests were conducted by just giving a can of soda to a police officer when in fact they were not.
The number of denunciations that the announcement received was such that the next day they had to apologize in their social networks and the commercial was removed from youtube so that it would never be transmitted again.
What went wrong: Trying to profit from social movements is not ethical, nor is it right. However, when you try to do it you should give a proper message, support the insurgent group, not those who do not. The problem with this commercial was that it is too ambiguous so it can be misinterpreted by the consumers of the product and cause problems for the company. To have avoided this, Pepsi could have approached the commercial in a different way, or simply have approached the new generations in a different way.
What can I learn from all this?
One of the big problems regarding marketing is that it is generally believed that big companies are untouchable and do not make mistakes, the reality is that it happens just the opposite, big brands are those that make the most mistakes without a doubt. That is why before thinking about a marketing strategy, the ideal is to know how to apply it correctly. In this article we show you some of the mistakes that big companies made so you can avoid making them, as a general rule you can see that all ads have the following problems in common:
- They touch on a politically ambiguous problem.
- They don’t do it respectfully,
- They’re trying to manipulate the viewer in some way.
- They are disrespectful to the company’s target audience.
Once you know this, you are unlikely to make these mistakes.
That’s it for this occasion, in the next post we’ll show you some of the best marketing campaigns done by big companies, so you can do them too in similar ways and help your brand grow in the good direction. See you next time.