A new year calls for reflection. If you and your staff will evaluate your company’s successes, and mishaps, consider taking a close look at the marketing failures of the last year. There’s a lot to learn from campaigns that bomb and even the campaigns with the biggest budgets, largest staffs, and most company clout can take a turn for the worst. Make sure you don’t repeat these mistakes in 2018 by taking a look at why these three campaigns missed their mark, big time.


First, there’s Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner television spot. It relied on a celebrity profile and a highly visible issue for its foundation, which might be considered a good start in a boardroom meeting. But when the spot aired, reactions on Twitter condemned the ad for “co-opting protest movements for profit.” Audiences blasted it on social media, photoshopping Pepsi cans over pepper-spray cans in historical images of police and black civil rights protestors. Comments like “If they had only given the cops a Pepsi” captioned photos of Black Lives Matter protests. Lesson learned: don’t suggest that your product or service is the cure or solution to sensitive, legitimate societal issues.


The second uh-oh marketing moment of 2017 is brought to you by Dove. The beauty company has always been a champion of positive body image, encouraging young girls to love themselves and discouraging body shame. So maybe it seemed like a good idea to produce a limited line of Dove body wash bottles shaped like “real women.” Except the concept forced women to awkwardly choose their shape from two tall, thin bottles, two pear-shaped, and two squat, round shapes in the grocery aisle. “Finally, a Dove soap bottle that won’t make me self-conscious about my body” said one tweet alongside a photo of the Pillsbury Dough Boy—ouch.


Okay, 2017’s final lesson is one we all learned in primary school. The U.S. Department of Education gave everyone not one but two reasons to laugh at their expense. In a tweet meant to celebrate W. E. B. Du Bois, the Dept. of Education misspelled the name of the civil-rights activist, scholar, and co-founder of the NAACP, and made yet another spelling error in the apology tweet that followed—in the words of Alanis Morissette, a little too ironic. Save yourself the red face folks, and proofread those posts.


Hindsight is twenty-twenty.