Epic Marketing Fails: Providing a Laugh and a Lesson (Part Two of Three)

FAIL #3: Pepsi fails at Chinese translation

marketing fail, marketing lesson

Image source: http://www.glantz.net/blog/campaigns-that-failed-to-translate

You may remember Pepsi’s old slogan, “Come alive with the Pepsi generation.” Well…Pepsi probably wishes they could forget this one. Only after taking the campaign and the slogan to China did they realize that in Chinese the slogan translated to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”

Lesson to be learned: Do your research.

A marketing campaign that works perfectly on your home turf may be ineffective or even offensive in other cultures. Make sure the message you are translating will resonate with the different audience and that you follow the customs of the location where you intend to market.


FAIL #4: Turner Broadcasting creates the appearance it’s bombing more than just its marketing campaign.

Marketing fail, marketing lesson

Image source: http://www.businesspundit.com/10-epic-advertising-fails-2/

One of, if not the biggest marketing fails of all time, occurred in 2007 when Turner Broadcasting attempted to market its television show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, by placing blinking LED placards up across the city of Boston. Having hoped to draw the city’s curiosity, the campaign instead ended up drawing the city’s bomb squad when residents called to report suspicious wire filled devices that resembled explosives. Despite the panic it incited, no criminal charges were filed, but the company did have to pay millions to Homeland Security and city police to resolve the matter.

Lesson to be learned: Put yourself in the audience’s shoes.

Although the negative outcome of this campaign may have been a little harder to foresee, there were still plenty of reasons to suspect that such a reaction could occur. This campaign was occurring in a major city in a post 9/11 world. Whether they knew about the show or not, who wouldn’t be concerned by a device in the middle of a city block with wires sticking out of it? Lesson learned: always look at your marketing tactic from the perspective of the beholder. What will they think? How will they react?


Enjoying this blog series? Don’t forget to check back on Wednesday for the third and final installment featuring one last hilarious marketing fail and a final take-away lesson.

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