9 Marketing Campaigns That Turned Out to Be Epic Fails

Sometimes companies spend huge amounts of money on great ads, but get marketing campaigns that cause eye-rolling or facepalms. Even well-respected companies may mess this up which then causes a couple of generations of consumers to laugh at their fails.

Smiles Tv will show you some examples of ads that prove that some companies are ready to do anything to attract customers.

Lost in translation



  • In the 80s, KFC opened its first restaurant in China and made a big mistake. The original slogan “finger lickin’ good” was translated as “eat your fingers off.” Fortunately, this fail didn’t affect the restaurant’s popularity and it’s still one of the most famous fast food restaurant chains in China.
  • When Parker Pen Co. decided to go global and sell their pens in Mexico the translation of their famous slogan “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” turned into a complete fail. The thing is, the word “embarrass” was translated as “embarazar” which actually means “to impregnate.” Thus, the slogan promised, “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
  • Russian automobile company Lada released a set of cars named Lada Kalina. Everything was great except one small issue: the word “kalina” means “rattling or clattering” in Finnish. Not the best marketing decision, right? So the car changed its name to Lada 119.

Double meaning

  • The above JCPenney billboard was advertising a kettle. It’d be fine if it wasn’t for a striking resemblance to Adolf Hitler. Internet users wrote that the spout was in the stance of the famous Nazi salute, its lid was the mustache, and its handle looked like Adolf’s hair. So the company had to completely remove this ad.
  • In the 20s new contraceptives named Ramses were released in the USA. 2 months after their release, the manufacturer found out that Ramses II had more than 160 children. Apparently, these contraceptives are as risky as Parker pens.

When a companies’ desire to surprise is boundless:

  • Harvey Nichols’ slogan said, “Try to contain your excitement.” The campaign was developed to promote the company’s summer sale but people were really shocked. Harvey Nichols commented that it was just a visual reflection of a famous phrase.
  • In the picture above, you can see a funeral services’ ad. To read their address in the tiny font they chose, you’re invited to come a little closer, even though that’s obviously really dangerous. So is it a brilliant advertisement or an evil joke?

Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

  • In spring 2008, Dr Pepper Snapple promised everyone in America a free can of soda if Guns N’ Roses finished their album Chinese Democracy prior to the new year. The chances were really slim taking into consideration the fact that the band hadn’t released any new songs for 14 years. But on the 23rd of November, the band released a new album. So Dr Pepper encouraged fans to log onto their website to apply for a free soda voucher. But their web servers weren’t up to the challenge and crashed under the deluge of traffic. All in all, people didn’t get their free beverages and Guns N’ Roses’ lawyers made the company apologize.




  • Domino’s offered Russians 100 pizzas within the next 100 years if they got tattoos of the company’s logo. People had to get a tattoo and share a picture of it on social media. The promotion was supposed to be over at the end of October. But just 2 days after the promotion was launched, the company changed the rules and specified that it would promise pizzas to the first 350 people who shared their Domino’s tattoos.

Which fail is the most epic? Would you get a tattoo of a company’s logo for a lifetime of free pizza?

Preview photo credit Hotspot Media