What Not to Do in a Viral Marketing Campaign?

Sometimes these marketing campaigns go viral –do not know why-, and sometimes they just go unnoticed because they were really bad and rude ads.

Companies and businesses are trying to get deep into a very noisy world, and getting their marketing messages heard has become more difficult every day. But there is a fine and delicate line between genius and insanity, and while most businesses navigate this line effectively, there are certain ones that seem to ignore it completely. In fact, we can see that they went so far past the line they cannot even see the limit.

Here, we present you 4 of the absolute worst marketing campaigns. Read about them, learn from them, and above all do not copy them.

  1. Walmart: Fat Girl Costumes

José Roberto Rincón: Walmart's campaigns
Walmart’s campaigns

Walmart faced a huge public backlash when they released a new shopping category on its website under the name of “Fat Girl Costumes.” The public were quick to take to Twitter to call out the superstore for this inappropriate language.

Walmart then issued an apology stating that that never should have been on their site. The company said that it was unacceptable, and apologized. Walmart started to work to remove it as soon as possible and ensured it will not happen again. However, people were quick to point to other signs of insensitivity on the site, signally that the damage was already done.

  1. Levi’s: “Hotness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes”

José Roberto Rincón: Levi’s: “Hotness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes”
Levi’s: “Hotness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes”

Levi’s Jeans determined that the brand needed to broaden its appeal, and in order to do that, they launched an ad campaign for its new Curve ID jeans. But what started out as an inclusive marketing concept, somehow ended as something else. Levi’s selected “skinny” models to show off the new jeans in their ads, women who did not represent the campaign’s target.

Suffice to say that there was a lot of negative response to the campaign, and a huge loss in customer goodwill.

3.      Victoria’s Secret: “The Perfect Body

Not alone in their ridiculously off-target marketing campaigns, Victoria Secret joined Levis in making their target demographic angry, frustrated and alienated. According to Victoria Secret’s “The Perfect Body” is thin and toned.  After widespread backlash, Victoria Secret changed the campaign’s theme to “A Body for Every Body.” Not sure if that worked.

  1. Huggies: “Have Dads Put Huggies to the Test”

José Roberto Rincón: Huggies: “Have Dads Put Huggies to the Test”
Huggies: “Have Dads Put Huggies to the Test”

We have to assume that the majority of the target is modern thinkers, and as such, we count with a more modern view on what a typical family looks like. One of the stereotypes that is been challenged is that it is the mother who is the main caregiver for the children of the family, and that the father is simply the one who brings the bread at home.

Unfortunately, Huggies seems to have lost this stereotypes lesson. In the campaign “Have Dads Put Huggies to the Test,” dads were shown as being inattentive to babies with full diapers. The backlash against the ad was so severe that a petition was launched called, We’re Dads, Huggies. Not Dummies to remove the ads.  Huggies eventually removed the ads.

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