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Marketing is an art form really, it is the t of getting people to buy your product or getting them to think about buying your product and they eventually will. 

The digital age has only caused an advancement in the ways companies can market themselves to the general public, whether it is through social media, websites and more complex ones like SEO. 

It is a whole spectrum. And we as the consumer eat it up.

However, with this expanded platform and plane that marketers use to showcase their products, mistakes can still be made. The kind of mistakes that can make a company a laughing stock and the kind of mistakes that can ruin the companies severely.

Sometimes, it seems that marketers forget to tread carefully in the way they market, but this has been an issue since before the digital age. The only difference in this generation is that there are even more ways to screw up and that people make memes about it.

That being said here are some cases of digital marketing fails that the online world has seen.

Adidas: Boston Marathon Email

Back in 2013, there was a terrible bombing at the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon. The terror attack cost the lives of 3 people and left 250 injured. 

In 2017, Adidas sent out an email to participants of the marathon in that year, and it was, well, poorly worded to say the least. 

It went along the lines of “Congratulations! You survived the Boston Marathon!” Yikes.

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With the attack still being a touchy subject in the United States, and especially in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, it was no surprise that people were upset form the insensitivity of the email for the sake of promoting Adidas products.

Ford and the #MeToo movement.

These past few years have seen the rise of the #MeToo movement as more and more famous celebrities and people of power are getting called out for their past aggressions and perversions against others, especially for women. The biggest case we are seeing is with former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, whos has now been charged in court.

In the midst of it all, Ford printed out a visual ad that is the prime definition of insensitivity. The ad in questions depicts three women, bound and gagged, stuffed in the back of a Ford Figo hatchback. It really is an overall disturbing ad to put out, especially with what is happening these days. 

Ford has since apologised for putting the ad out. 

Snapchat: Would you rather blunder

Snapchat put out an ad-based game on its platform called ‘would you rather’, where users have to pick one situation. One of them would you rather cases asked users, “Would you rather: Slap Rihanna or Punch Chris Brown.” 

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Back in 2009, singer Chris Brown assaulted his then-girlfriend, Rihanna. It was a pretty big case back then and still a very touchy subject. Either this was a case of unfortunate coincidence or stupidity we do not know either way, the app has received its fair share of backlash because of it and has since apologised. 

Nivea and Purity

An ad for deodorant posted by Nivea Middle East, the ad showed back of a woman’s head with long, dark hair covering her white outfit, bellow a tagline read “White is Purity” 

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That caught the attention of a few racist white supremacists and it was seen as being racially insensitive. 

NYPD’s Reality Check

In 2014, the New York Police Department’s official Twitter account posted a Tweet asking citizens or people to post photos of themselves with a member of one of their law enforcement officers and use the hashtag, #myNYPD, with it, so it may be shared on their Facebook page.

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But instead of getting lovely photos of cops helping old men or playing a game with kids, many people posted their reality of police in America. Photos of a policeman being abusive and using extreme tactics were posted with the hashtag instead.

H&M’s choice of model for kids clothing

In 2018, clothing brand H&M showcased one of their items for kids. The item in question was a green hoody with the words “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle”, now so far that sounds alright right? Well, until you realised who they used to showcase the hoody.

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Many were upset at this because the word money was and still is a derogatory term used against black people. So having a black child pose for that particular hoody was definitely in poor taste.

What can we learn from these?

If you are a marketer you must be careful about what you say or do before posting something. Research seems to also be the key here if you want to avoid saying the wrong thing too.

Sometimes reading into a particular subject or situation can really help too, along with planning the timing of when you intend to put out a marketing campaign. 

Always keep up to date to what is happening in current events so that your ads and campaigns are not insensitive or oblivious to issues around the globe. 

Sometimes, the right digital marketing firm can really help. Besides, digital marketing is not just limited to ads, there are many other ways to digitally market, more technical and robust ways. Like SEO. Sterrific, based in Malaysia, is an agency that provides the best SEO services Malaysia can offer, they will assist you in making sure you are seen and will also assist in performing proper marketing techniques that can help expand your brand, they certainly helped us and made the world of digital marketing more clear for us to understand!