2013 Opinion Issue

The Top Follies of 2013

Brands That Made Major Marketing Missteps

Published on .

Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it -- so take a lesson from these brands to avoid a major duck-up of your own.

The health insurance marketplace was open... but not functional.
The health insurance marketplace was open... but not functional.

HealthCare.gov

The poster-child for government incompetence provided plenty of one-liners for late-night comics, pundits.

JWT India's Ford Figo 'ads'

Remember, kids. In a connected, global village, everyone can see those horribly offensive fake ads you're entering into award shows. Even the marketer.

JC Penney's fabulous flameout

Remember when Ron Johnson did away with sales and coupons and revolutionized retail? You might not, but the stockholders sure do (even if the company has un-done everything from the brief Ron Johnson era that it can, down to the logo.)

'Duck Dynasty' wings clipped

A&E scrambled to keep everyone happy after being shocked (shocked!) by the discovery that family patriarch Phil Robertson, a born-again Christian, has some very old-school thoughts on homosexuality.

Paula Deen speaks out

Almost as bad as the revelations that she's got som retrograde views on race? The horrible damage-control efforts afterward.

Hyundai ad not a gas

A U.K. ad featured a car with emissions so low that it can't generate enough carbon monoxide for a dude to kill himself. Like 100% of suicide-themed ads, it did not go over well.

Guns & Ammo's 'gun control' editorial

Imagine a pro-Microsoft piece in MacWorld. Now multiply that by 100. That's what happened when Guns & Ammo ran a piece in favor of some gun regulation. The writer was shown the door and Editor-in-Chief Jim Bequette stepped down.

AT&T's 9/11 tweet

Never forget! ... That the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is not a thing to commemorate with tacky sales pitches.

GoldieBlox vs. Beastie Boys


The internet loved the GoldiBlox video for girl-empowering toys using a parody of the Beastie Boys' "Girls" for a sountrack. But it turns out the band has a gender-neutral approach to not allowing its music in ads.

That '60 Minutes' Benghazi report

When the most important source for this report, which subsequently had to be retracted, all but claimed to have taken out 60 guys (and a bear) with dental floss and an ink pen, someone should have called in the fact-checking special forces.
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