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Marketing Fails case studies: we currently have 38.

Any agency or media owner can submit case studies to our team and these 38 are the strongest we have received, with the most recent case studies at the top of this page. If you're interested in more digital marketing case studies then review our complete case study library. If you're interested in submitting case studies then email our case studies manager to find out more

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Email fail: Amazon mistakenly sends baby registry emails

In September 2017, Amazon mistakenly sent out some very confusing emails, telling a large number of customers that someone had bought an item off their baby registry. This case study looks at how even the largest digital giants can make glaring customer data errors.


29/09/2017  |  Full story...

Twitter fail: Walkers pulls interactive selfie ad

In May 2017, Walkers Crisps pulled an interactive video ad after it displayed the faces of mass murderers and child abusers, submitted by internet pranksters. This case study looks at how the food brand learned the hard way about unmoderated user content.


01/06/2017  |  Full story...

Viral marketing fail: McDonald's pulls controversial video child bereavement ad

McDonald's has withdrawn a controversial video ad after a huge social media backlash, with one charity accusing it of exploiting child bereavement.


01/06/2017  |  Full story...

Video marketing fail: Pepsi suffers web backlash for Kendall Jenner 'protest' ad

In April 2017, Pepsi came under fire a video ad where reality TV star Kendall Jenner used a can of Pepsi to soothe tension between protesters and police, sparking accusations that it exploited the "Black Lives Matter" movement. This case study looks at what went wrong for the soft drinks giant...


01/06/2017  |  Full story...

Crisis management case study: United Airlines

In March 2017 United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz was named U.S. Communicator of the Year by the magazine PR Week. Just one month later, his company’s poor response to a customer incident has turned into a PR disaster, caused its stock to dramatically drop $1bn in value and has placed the entire airline industry under the microscope. Joanna Delaney, Digital Strategy Analyst at Digital Strategy Consulting group, looks at how the situation escalated, explaining how through the power of social media an isolated incident turned into a global PR disaster overnight.


28/04/2017  |  Full story...

Twitter fail: British Gas in hot water over "tacky" Bowie tweet

A British Gas customer service tweet marking the anniversary of David Bowie's death has sparked a Twitter frenzy.


10/01/2017  |  Full story...

The 12 worst marketing fails of 2016: Rogue chatbots, tasteless burgers and Google fools itself

As 2016 draws to a close, we look as some of the biggest marketing blunders of the year. From Microsoft's chatbot going rogue on Twitter to Gmail's backfiring April Fool's joke, there were plenty of mistakes from companies that should know better. Read on, learn from the mistakes and hope your team doesn’t make the list in 2017...


10/01/2017  |  Full story...

McDonald’s fail: Name your own burger site attracts tasteless creations

Clearly not learning lessons from “Boaty McBoatFace”, McDonalds New Zealand launched a "Create Your Taste" campaign that resulted in a number of highly offensive burger names appearing on its official site. This case study looks at the social media fail...


21/07/2016  |  Full story...

Twitter fail: Whole Foods drops pre-peeled oranges after social media backlash

In March 2016, supermarket chain Whole Foods sparked a Twitter revolt by selling pre-peeled oranges in plastic containers. This case study looks at the social media fall out.

08/03/2016  |  Full story...

Super Bowl case study: How 12 big ads performed on social media

With 13.5 million tweets in less than 12 hours, this year’s Super Bowl, which marked the 50th anniversary of America’s biggest sporting event was bigger and louder than ever. Agency Carat looks at some of the biggest ads and their impact on social media.


09/02/2016  |  Full story...

TV fail: Microsoft Surface tablets go offline during live NFL playoff

A $400m sponsorship deal with the NFL backfired this weekend, after Microsoft’s Surface tablets went offline for coaching staff during a live game.

27/01/2016  |  Full story...

Marketing fail: Flipkart 'sexist' customer emails go viral on Twitter

In August 2015, Flipkart was forced to apologise for sending a sexist promotional email after a customer took to Twitter to criticise India's largest online retailer. This case study looks at the fall out from the marketing blunder, and why brands should think before they click 'send'.


03/09/2015  |  Full story...

Social media management case study: Bugaboo bikini mum sparks controversy

With content marketing spilling onto social media, the context of each post becomes crucial- as one baby buggy manufacturer learned the hard way. In July 2015, a photo of young bikini-clad model and mum running with a Bugaboo stroller caused outrage on Facebook. The image, originally published as part in a Vogue Netherlands article, was then posted on Bugaboo's Facebook and Instagram profiles- prompting reactions from admiration to disgust. This case study examines the lessons we can learn from this social media storm.


30/07/2015  |  Full story...

Crisis management case study: Nestlé’s Maggi noodles banned in India

At the end of May 2015, India’s Food safety administration (FDA) ordered Nestlé India to recall its popular 2-minute Maggi noodles after tests showed that the product contained high levels of lead and MSG. This case study looks at how the situation developed, and how Nestlé reacted and managed the situation using multiple digital channels.


16/07/2015  |  Full story...

Marketing fail: Heinz QR codes accidentally link to ‘saucy’ porn site

In a stark warning to brands with too many untracked website domains, Heinz was left embarrassed after a QR code on bottles of Ketchup linked to a hardcore porn site in Germany.


25/06/2015  |  Full story...

Cashless payment fail: Chaos at festival as system crashes

In a stark reminder of the perils of having a digital-only plan, a UK music festival plunged into chaos in June 2015 as its cashless payment system failed- leaving music fans unable to buy food or drink and being forced to queue for hours.


25/06/2015  |  Full story...

Twitter fail: Nando's criticised for 'flirty tweets’ to female customer

Social media is great for sending personalised messaged to customers- but what happens when brands get too personal? Nando’s recently attracted criticism after a its tweets to a female customer crossed the line from friendly to creepy- this case study looks at where they went wrong.


03/06/2015  |  Full story...

Beach Body wars: Controversial posters spark social media backlash

A London poster ad featuring a bikini-clad model next to the words "Are you beach body ready?" has sparked a social media backlash. But it also made Protein World, the company behind the campaign, around £1m in sales within just four days. This case study looks at the one of the most controversial ads on the year and asks whether there really is no such thing as bad publicity…


30/04/2015  |  Full story...

How Greggs turned a Google fail into a social win

Greggs has been embarrassed after a crude spoof of its logo started appearing on a prominent Google search result- but the UK bakery chain managed to turn the situation to its advantage via some good humoured and timely social media management.

20/08/2014  |  Full story...

Genius or balls? Airbnb rebrand sparks web ridicule

Airbnb has undergone a rebrand as the accommodation sharing website looks to target more markets, but the new logo has attracted widespread mockery on the web for its similarities to certain parts of the human anatomy.

The company released a video about the meaning of the Bélo symbol (which appears to the left of "airbnb" in the logo):

22/07/2014  |  Full story...

Twitter fail: KLM apologises for offensive Mexico World Cup tweet

Dutch airline KLM was forced to apologise for joke tweet following Netherlands' victory over Mexico at the 2014 World Cup. This case study looks at the perils of tweeting before you think, especially when caught up in the euphoria of sporting victory over large segment of your customer base.


02/07/2014  |  Full story...

'More robots than humans' saw Mercedes-Benz ad

Online ads for Mercedes were seen more often by fraudster robots than humans, according to a new report. The Financial Times reports that the Mercedes-Benz ads were accidentally placed on to fraudulent websites by Rocket Fuel, a Nasdaq-listed ad technology company that went public with a market capitalisation of nearly $1bn last year. According to Telemetry, a UK company which specialises in detecting ad fraud, in a sample of 365,000 ad impressions brokered by Rocket Fuel over three weeks, 57 per cent were “viewed” by automated computer programs rather than real people. The allegation will raise concerns about fraud in the fast-growing online advertising market, which expanded 15% last year to $120bn.


28/05/2014  |  Full story...

Twitter fail: New McDonald’s mascot terrifies Twitter


McDonald's latest mascot ‘Happy’, aimed at promoting healthy eating for children, has caused a stir on social media for all the wrong reasons- with many judging the character as ‘terrifying’. The mascot has launched in the US, modelled off the Happy Meal box, with the aim of encouraging kids to eat more fruits, vegetables and low-sugar beverage options like milk and water- foods not commonly associated with the fast food chain. The fast food giant says it “brings fun and excitement to kids’ meals while serving as an ambassador for balanced and wholesome eating.” However, judging by the reaction on social media, it's inspiring more fear than excitement since making its US debut.

21/05/2014  |  Full story...

New York cops' Twitter campaign backfires with ‘police brutality’ pics


In April 2014. a hashtag campaign started by the New York City Police Department backfired after being inundated with photos of police brutality submitted via Twitter. This case study looks at why the campaign failed, and what brands can do to avoid similar Twitter catastrophes.

24/04/2014  |  Full story...

Social media fail: US Airways sorry for Twitter porn blunder


In April 2014, US Airways had to apologise after a pornographic photo was sent from its official Twitter account in response to a customer complaint. This case study looks at the fallout from the offending tweet and looks at the dangers of hastily (and unchecked) public social media responses.

16/04/2014  |  Full story...

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