Customer Experience News & Trends

Horrible advertising mistakes made by 5 big companies

An advertisement is supposed to attract attention — but not this kind of attention.

Here are five mistakes companies have made — and what you can learn from them:

1. Sketchers to pay out $40 million for false promises and unfounded claims

Sketchers recently found itself at the losing end of a class action lawsuit over their Shape-Ups shoes, a product they claimed would tone the legs, buttocks and abdominal muscles of the wearer. The only problem: They couldn’t prove the claims were true after customers complained they weren’t seeing the results. Now Sketchers has to pay out $40 million in refunds.

The lesson: Test your product and be prepared to back your claims. If you need to, include a disclaimer.

2. Macy’s accidentally puts a $1,500 necklace on sale for $47

This year Macy’s made an error when it left off a single digit in the price of a necklace. The $1,500 necklace was supposed to be on sale for $479, but a typo listed it at $47. This immediately led to the necklace selling out, until Macy’s caught the error and had to cancel all the orders — which undoubtedly upset many customers.

The lesson: Always double-check content before you release it. Typos are enough to make a potential customer cringe. Plus, they’re embarrassing and easily avoidable.

3. Burger King tries to use sex to sell burgers

A Singapore-focused 2009 ad for the BK Super Seven Incher featured a woman on the left side with her mouth wide open, and the long sandwich heading in from the right. The caption: “It’ll blow your mind away.” The ad sparked wide Internet criticism for overly-blatant use of sexual innuendo.

The lesson: Be aware of social sensitivities and respond appropriately. Ask yourself if the ad might offend anyone, even people on the other side of the globe.

4. Papa John’s faces having to pay out $250 million for unwanted text messages

Papa John’s pizza is facing a massive $250 million lawsuit for sending out 500,000 text messages to unwilling recipients. The pizza company retained the phone numbers of people that called in to order, and later sent out ads and promotions to those same numbers.

The lesson: If you’re going to collect and save customers’ phone numbers or email addresses, let them know why. And always ask permission before sending a text or email marketing message.

5. CelebBoutique accidentally tries to use the Aurora shooting to their advantage

Last year, CelebBoutique found itself in trouble after unsuccessfully trying to capitalize on the trending #Aurora hashtag on Twitter to promote its Aurora dress right after the Aurora, CO, shooting. Though the UK-based fashion company was unaware of the shooting, the social backlash was harsh, even sparking a boycott of the company.

The lesson: If you’re going to use hashtags, especially ones that are popular, make sure you understand why people are using them.

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