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6 Biggest Social Media Fails in 2017

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Marketing mistakes aren’t unusual. Nearly all brands go astray in an effort to stand out and do it differently. However, when your marketing team goofs up on social media, it rarely goes unnoticed or scot-free. 2017 is far being from over, but we’ve seen a flurry of faux pas by big brands. Here’s a list of some of the major social media fails and how they affected the brands.

United Airlines Mishandling a Crisis

In an age when most brands would go out of their way to ensure customer satisfaction, United Airlines did the most unthinkable. In an event that rocked the aviation industry, some security staffers at United Airlines could be seen forcibly remove a passenger from their aircraft when he declined to forfeit his seat for the maintenance workers.

While it brought unfathomable infamy to the airline brand, things for the beleaguered company got even worse when their CEO, Oscar Munoz issued a cold apology that reeked of victim-blaming and undue praise for the employees for following security procedures.

For an entire week, the airline was at the receiving end of a slew of negative and sarcastic comments on Twitter.

Dove Ruining Its Body Image

In a bid to highlight the prevalent body image issues, Dove came up with an ad promoting their six new body-wash bottles, each of which correlated with a woman’s body type.

The campaign aimed at creating a body-positive narrative ended up hurting the very image of the personal care brand when it became the butt of every joke on Twitter.

To Pepsi, Black Lives Didn’t Matter

At times, even ad campaigns from large and well-established brands can backfire unless they think it through and get the timing right. That’s exactly what happened with Pepsi when they decided to launch a promotion around #BlackLivesMatter, a Twitter campaign in the backdrop of a protest against police brutality.

Not only did the campaign fall flat, many even called for a Pepsi boycott and accused the beverage brand of appropriating the social movement. Even as Pepsi withdrew the ad and apologized, the negative impact it left endured for a while.

McDonald's Tweet Blasts President

For brands that cater to consumers across a varied socio-political landscape, politics can be a super sensitive issue. However, in March, McDonald’s wrote a tweet lambasting President Trump and ridiculing him in public. Needless to say, the tweet generated considerable outrage and praise in equal proportion. The embarrassed burger brand quickly deleted the controversial tweet, and revealed that their account had been hacked.


Uber Pilloried for Insensitive Promotion

The immigration ban by the Trump administration in January triggered protests in New York by taxi drivers who called drivers from Uber and Lyft to join the campaign against the proposed legislation.

While Lyft announced a $1 million donation to the ACLU to demonstrate solidarity, Uber instead tweeted that it would suspend “surge” pricing. Many viewed this move as an appropriation of the cause, which led to an outrage against the Uber. The hashtag #DeleteUber went viral on Twitter prompting as many as 200,000 people deleting their Uber app. Interestingly, Lyft saw a substantial boost in their app download.

Adidas’s Marketing Gaffe

It’s one thing to use clickbaity headlines for grabbing eyeballs, but quite another to write insensitive headlines. After Boston Marathon event in April, Adidas sent a marketing email with a cringe-worthy headline allegedly hurting sentiments of the real survivors of 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

It didn’t take long for Adidas to get roasted on Twitter, which promoted the sports apparel brand to apologize with an email with the subject line “Incredibly Sorry”.

Final Thoughts

In an effort to make the most of current news and events, brands go overboard with their marketing message without considering the potential repercussions. As a brand, you must be super careful and fully aware of your audience and followers before sending out a marketing message. Sometimes mistakes happen despite your best intentions. The best way to redeem yourself is to own up and apologize.

Published on August 10, 2017

Topics Content Marketing Strategy Social Media