From PR stunts to advertising campaigns, marketing efforts can quickly become well praised or knocked down in today’s world of social media and instant feedback. Although there have been many marketing efforts that have been huge successes or major fails over the past year, here are just a few of the best and worst to reflect on and learn from before we head into 2019.
This past June, pancake chain iHop changed its name to iHob, shaking up the internet. After weeks of people guessing what the “b” would stand for, iHop announced that it would now be called International House of Burgers in a publicity stunt to promote their line of burgers. The name ended up being only temporary, and many people took to social media to bash the stunt for being a lie while many others praised it. In the end, iHop’s name change resulted in skyrocketing numbers of mentions across all major social media platforms and raised awareness for their burgers just as the stunt intended.
LinkedIn is not known to do much advertising, but during the Golden Globes, they decided to launch their “In It Together” campaign with a heartwarming commercial focused on inclusion. LinkedIn has a reputation of being a professional networking platform used only by those working in white-collar professions. The commercial highlighted LinkedIn members’ success stories featuring more blue-collar professionals with the message, “that no matter what you are in it for, we are in it together.” This campaign has since been adapted to social media, digital advertising, outdoor advertising, and more.
With the sales of smart speakers climbing, Amazon took to one of the biggest platforms possible to promote their Alexa-controlled Echo devices– the Super Bowl. In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, Amazon released a teaser ad where Alexa was beginning to “lose her voice.” Amazon’s chief executive is seen running frantic through the ad searching for a replacement when employees reassure him they have it covered. It is only during Amazon’s funny and creative Super Bowl commercial where we see celebrities like Gordon Ramsay, Rebel Wilson, and Cardi B filling in for Alexa. With Google and Apple launching competitive smart speakers, this hilarious commercial came just in time to pique interest in Echo devices.
Arguably one of the most talked about marketing fails of 2018 was from clothing retailer H&M. After an advertisement on the company’s website in Britain of a new sweatshirt with the saying “coolest monkey in the jungle” modeled by a black boy went live, social media reacted in outrage. Critics claimed that the advertisement had racial undertones and should never have been included to begin with. This controversy had celebrities, major publications, and social advocates speaking up, and H&M later took down the advertisement, removed the product from stores completely, and issued apologies.
Snack companies are constantly evolving their products and targeting specific consumer segments, but when PepsiCo’s CEO said in an interview that the company is working on designing Doritos specifically for women, it did not go over well. The CEO mentioned that women do not like to lick their fingers or crunch loudly in public, so they want to create a chip that caters to those needs. After extreme backlash on social media, Doritos issued a statement that they will not be moving forward with the concept and they, “already have Doritos for women— they’re called Doritos.”
Although not affecting the United States, Domino’s Russia earned a spot on the worst list with a campaign that launched in August offering free pizza for life to anyone who got a tattoo of the brand’s logo in a prominent spot on their body. Domino’s clearly did not know just how many people would jump at the chance to prove their love for pizza, and the campaign that was supposed to last two months was cancelled after just five days. Domino’s also had to limit the winners to the first 350 people and allowed those who were currently getting tattooed to still receive their free pizza for life, but those with future appointments were urged to cancel them.