Customer Experience News & Trends

6 worst marketing train wrecks of 2013

5. The ‘Oblivious and out of touch’ train wreck

Consistency is important in marketing. An ad with disconnected visuals and text reflects poorly on the people who made it. For example: Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Mount Saint Vincent University wanted a billboard to show how they “celebrate women” with their women’s Wall of Honour. So what did it do?

It erected a billboard ad promoting the Wall of Honour that showed three men promoting the Wall of Honour. That’s right. There wasn’t a woman in sight.

All forms of disconnection in ads can unsettle viewers with confusion. The DC Metro knows this after one of their ad campaigns shows it can be disconnected on all kinds of levels, and from all kinds of people. At least, that seems to be the only obvious message in their recent poster featuring two women: one talking about the new, reliable subway, and the other, for no apparent reason, asking why they can’t just talk about shoes.

Supposedly, those behind the ad were only trying to get people talking about the Metro’s renovations.

6.  The ‘Color Blind’ train wreck

Sometimes even just an accidental hint of racism can force a company to scrap their projects, let alone unsubtle missteps like the one made by a Portland, OR radio station. Microphone

The conservative talk radio station KXL-FM had to learn the hard way that, “We love you, long time” was not a great slogan to slap on a billboard. Especially not in Chinatown, where the billboard first went up (and very quickly came down).

Home Depot also had to learn to think twice about what they tweet, when the company’s attempt at humor left many with a bad taste in their mouths.

For their College Game Day promo, Home Depot asked customers, “Which drummer is not like the others?” between two African American employees, and a man in gorilla costume. The racism accusations that followed had Home Depot pulling the picture, firing the ad agency that came up with it and repeatedly apologizing to customers for several days afterword.

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