When marketing comes back to haunt you.

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There’s a lot of work that goes into getting the most out of your marketing. We know because that’s what we’re all about — making brands Better. But sometimes things can get a little scary out there in the marketing world…

Here are some of our favourite cautionary tales, with a few examples of how monstrous marketing can come back to haunt the brands that make these deadly mistakes.

Pepsi — The one where they jumped on a movement.

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Do all protesters dress in Pepsi blue colours?

Ah yes. The ‘Live For Now’ ad. The campaign launched in 2017 and was pulled within less than 24 hours of going live. Yet it still comes back to bite Pepsi years later.

This grizzly tale serves as a reminder that brand messaging needs to be clear and grounded in truth. If you’re going to align your brand with a cultural topic, you have to make it relevant and meaningful. If you don’t, all that hard work just feels insensitive — like you’re profiting off someone else’s struggle.

It was this insensitivity that pushed people away. Protests stand for something. Kendell Jenner giving a Pepsi to a police officer: less so. Produced by Pepsi’s in-house team, this ad landed the brand in hot water with consumers and nabbed them a spot in the branding book of horrors.

Gap — The one where they rebranded for six days.

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Bridging the Gaps.

On 6th October 2010, GAP unveiled their new logo. It was their first redesign in 24 years. People saw it and the results were in pretty quick. It was bad with a capital B. Less than a week later, they reverted their branding. Hundreds of hours and thousands of pounds — all in the bin six days later. How could a brand as large and well-known make such a mistake?

Like any good ghost story, there are different accounts. Some say it was deliberately terrible — a PR stunt. Others say that they didn’t put the right processes in place and it’s simply a case study for how not to run a rebrand. We’ll leave that to you, dear reader.

But one thing is for sure. You can’t afford to cut corners with your branding. Brands that are consistent, distinctive, and memorable are the ones that stand the test of time. Gap is an example of what can happen when you forget some of these basic principles and what makes your brand distinctive in the first place. A mortal sin.

And worst of all…

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Wait, that kid’s in blue? Is she protesting against something?

Out of all the deadly marketing sins, there’s one that scares us the most. The kind of terror that sends chills down our spines. The worst thing that an ad or campaign can be is forgettable with no clear message.

We’ve all seen a car advert that does exactly that and flows something like this…

A car drives around a city or some beautiful French mountain range. Words flash on the screen. It’s all moving so fast you can barely catch it all. Fade to black. Cut to a logo with a vague word or nonsensical attitude like Dream Your Drive or Car Different.

There’s a big problem with ads that follow this kind of formula. They don’t have a clear message. They don’t make you think or see the world differently. They just make you not care.

Apathy — the scariest monster of all for marketers.

Here at Orb, we’re all about Better. Whether that’s building Better brands, Better messaging or just Better work. If you need help with your marketing, get in touch and have a chat with the team here.

We are Orb, a creative agency built on Better. Everything we do is to make your business Better.

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