May 19, 2020

Seven of the worst ever marketing failures

Sumit Modi
3 min
Seven of the worst ever marketing failures

Coca-Cola and Walmart are being criticised for their insensitive choice to create a Twin Towers display in stores.


Packs of Coke cans were stacked to represent the Twin Towers with a banner stating ‘We Will Never Forget’, but the sincere message was sullied by large signs displaying the discount price.

Cue the public backlash, which involves many people claiming it’s impossible for a company like this to appear truly sincere or respectful, as any public move they make serves as an advertisement.

Here are some of the worst, most offensive, and utterly bewildering marketing failures in recent history.

Heinz's redirected QR code

A German resident received a shock when he scanned an expired QR code and was redirected to a hardcore porn site. Heinz had failed to renew the URL, allowing Fundorado to claim it. Heinz apologised, while Fundorado offered the young man a year’s worth of free membership to its live cam feature. Whether he took the offer or not is unknown. 

Bloomingdale’s ‘spike your best friend’s eggnog while they’re not looking’ poster

Rather than promoting seasonal fun, this campaign was shocking in its irresponsible promotion of date rape. It featured a woman laughing, with her face turned away from a man side-eyeing her with eerie intensity. The words ‘spike your best friend’s eggnog while they’re not looking’ floated between them; this grossly inappropriate advert was removed and Bloomingdale’s apologised as sincerely as a Twitter apology can possibly be.

Walmart's ‘fat girl costumes’

A hawk-eyed consumer shopping for Halloween outfits noticed that the tab for plus-size items on Walmart’s website actually read ‘fat girl costumes’ in an astonishingly insensitive move. It wouldn’t be the first time Walmart has upset consumers, and it hurriedly changed the offending phrase.

Kurl-On mattresses

In one of the most shocking marketing fails of all time, an advert graphically depicting Malala Yousafzai being shot by the Taliban, falling onto a Kurl-On mattress and bouncing back to receive her Humanitarian Award was released by Ogilvy India. The image was detailed enough to show blood spraying from her head and a drip attached to her arm as she falls. The company apologised profusely, but the damage was done.

Levi’s and Victoria’s Secret's supposedly inclusive ranges

Levi’s and Victoria’s Secrets have never been particularly inclusive when it comes to diversity. Levi’s ‘Hotness Comes in All Shapes And Sizes’ campaign was slated due to the fact that the various ‘shapes and sizes’ of women included were in fact all thin and toned, and Victoria’s Secret’s ‘The Perfect “Body”’ ad bombed for the same reason. The latter slightly altered its message, but both companies lost a fair amount of customer good will.

Bud Light’s #UpForAnything message

‘The perfect beer for whatever happens’ fell under fire when it released bottles which included the line ‘the perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary’. It heavily suggested that consumers would get drunk on the product and no longer have any inhibitions regarding what happened to their bodies, emphasizing and exacerbating broader issues with rape culture.  

Amazon’s Man in The High Castle campaign

Man in The High Castle is a dystopian alternate reality drama made by Amazon exploring what would have happened to the world had the Nazi’s won World War II. A fascinating subject which led to an unfortunate and offensive marketing campaign. Amazon had subway trains decorated to advertise the show, with obvious Third Reich symbolism. This move was made even worse by the fact that these trains were in New York, which has a large Jewish population, and it was condemned by both the State Governer and city's Mayor.


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Jun 14, 2021

Giving efficiency the full throttle at NASCAR

3 min
CDW is a leading provider of information technology solutions, optimized business workflow and data capture systems for the auto racing company.

The NASCAR organization has long been synonymous with speed, agility and innovation. And so by extension, partnerships at NASCAR hold a similar reputation. One such partner for the organization has been CDW – a leading multi-brand provider of information technology solutions to businesses, government, education and healthcare customers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. CDW provides a broad array of products and services ranging from hardware and software to integrated IT solutions such as security cloud hybrid infrastructure and digital experience. Customer need is the driving force at CDW, and the company helps clients by delivering integrated services solutions that maximize their technology investment. So how does CDW help their customers achieve their business goals? Troy Okerberg, Field Sales Manager - North Florida at CDW adds “We strive to provide our customers with full stack expertise, helping them design, orchestrate and manage technologies that drive their business outcomes.” 

NASCAR acquired International Speedway Corporation (ISC) in 2019, merging its operations into one, new company moving forward. The merger represents an important step forward for NASCAR as the sport creates a unified vision to embrace its long history of exciting, family-oriented racing experiences while developing strategic growth initiatives that will drive the passion of core fans and attract the next generation of race fans. CDW has been instrumental in bringing the two technology environments together to enable collaboration and efficiency as one organization. Starting with a comprehensive analysis of all of NASCAR’s vendors, CDW created a uniform data platform for the data center environment across the NASCAR-ISC organization. The IT partner has also successfully merged the two native infrastructure systems together, while analyzing, consulting and providing an opportunity to merge Microsoft software licenses as well. 

2020 turned into a tactical year for both organizations with the onset of the pandemic and CDW has had to react quickly to the changing scenario. Most of the initial change included building efficiencies around logistics, like equipment needing to be delivered into the hands of end users who switched to a virtual working environment almost overnight. CDW’s distribution team worked tirelessly to ensure that all customers could still access the products that they were purchasing and needed for their organizations throughout the COVID timeframe. Okerberg adds that today, CDW continues to optimize their offering by hyper-localizing resources as well as providing need-based support based on the size and complexity of their accounts. Although CDW still operates remotely, the company commits to adapting to the changing needs of their clients, NASCAR in particular. Apart from the challenges that COVID-19 brought to the organization, another task that CDW had been handed was to identify gaps and duplicates in vendor agreements that the two former single-entity organizations had in place and align them based on services offered. CDW further helps identify and provide the best solution from a consolidation standpoint of both hardware and software clients so that the new merged organization is equipped with the best of what the industry has to offer. 

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