4 Huge Company Blunders That Caused PR Disasters

The brands that got it completely wrong in 2016

Whoever said that there is “no such thing as bad publicity” was very much mistaken. Despite having undoubtedly huge communications teams and enviable campaign budgets, 2016 proved that it’s the big brands who learn the hard way. In the battle to be the biggest, best and bravest, some brands seem to forget to consider their brand image.

Thanks to the digital revolution that is social media, a brand’s mishap can be forever preserved in the form of regrams, retweets and shares, so who got it really wrong this year?

Brace yourselves for the good/bad stuff…



Bloomingdales - Merry Christmas! Let’s cheers to date rape!?

What is the best way to help people get into the festive spirit - silly Christmas sweaters? Putting tinsel around the office? Bloomingdale's seemed to have a worryingly warped idea when an image from their 2015 Christmas catalog went viral.

If you didn’t catch it, let us paint the picture for you: a woman laughing, blissfully unaware of her creepy male “best friend” watching her in an obviously predatory manner. And for those who thought we might be being over sensitive to the clearly suggestive image need not worry, Bloomingdale’s more than clarified any confusion using this tasteful accompanying copy: ‘spike your best friend’s eggnog when they're not looking’. Not much left to the imagination here right?

Melania Trump - Plagiarism-gate

Trump fans were brought to their feet when the First Lady of America addressed crowds at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last summer.

Her speech emphasized the importance of family values and hard work in motivating Americans to achieve their dreams, but her moment of glory was short lived when twitter spiraled into a frenzy after footage emerged of Michelle Obama reciting exactly the same words at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

Team Trump vehemently denied the plagiarism accusations claiming that Melania shared her personal inspirations using “common words” (a massive understatement).

Microsoft Tries Teen Speak - “Hella Noms”, Hella no…

Microsoft has had a tough time trying to show they are still ‘down with the kids’. Their failure came when a leaked email from a recruiter for their summer internship scheme went viral last July.

The computer giant called on ‘bae’ interns to join them at an exclusive party hosted at their San Francisco office, promising ‘hella noms’ and ‘lots of dranks’ asking for a ‘hell yes to getting lit on a Monday night!’

The brand came under fire last year after Tay, their first AI twitter chatbot designed to speak like a teenage girl (yes, a teenage girl *facepalm*) had to be removed when the account started churning out tweets promoting Hitler, accusing George Bush of orchestrating 9/11 and asking grown men if she can call them ‘daddy’.

Sprite - #BrutallySexist

Coca-cola also found itself in the midst of a sexism row last August after the latest creative from Sprite’s new #BrutallyRefreshing ad campaign went live in Ireland.

The campaign was launched last March to celebrate Ireland’s propensity ‘to tell it like it is’. The ad in question doesn’t feature any actual women but instead some randomly placed misogynistic captions like ‘She’s seen more ceilings...than Michelangelo’, ‘You’re not popular. You’re easy’ and finally ‘One dip is never enough’ (yes, ew).

All brands have been guilty of a poor tenuous link or two but it is really hard to understand the logic behind this one: soda + talking honestly equals… shaming women’s sexual behavior? The drinks giant immediately pulled the ad acknowledging the campaign did not quite meet their high standards of advertising.

Think you have seen worse PR blunders than these? Share yours using our hashtag #WhoSignedThatOff



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