2017’s Big Brand Advertising Flops & How to Learn From Them

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As a digital agency in Bournemouth that focuses on web design and SEO services, we must be aware of the latest and greatest in marketing and advertising. However sometimes advertising campaigns become widely known for all the wrong reasons, and receive strong levels of complaints. The mistakes these businesses make can provide valuable lessons for the rest of us, so here are some of the biggest recent advertising flops and what can be learned from them!

Pepsi – ‘Live for Now’

Arguably the most notable cause of backlash in the advertising industry recently was Pepsi’s advert in April. The advert showed Supermodel Kendall Jenner offering a can of Pepsi to a riot police officer in the midst of a protest. The commercial seemed to suggest that a can of Pepsi could fix large-scale problems such as racism, sexism, and police brutality. The image of Jenner offering the drink appears to resemble the award winning photograph of protester Ieshia Evans offering a flower to armed police. The lesson to be learned here is that it is important not to make light of serious issues and events, as it can appear to devalue them and cause the business to look unaware.

Nivea – ‘White is Purity’

In early April, Skincare brand Nivea, removed an advert with the tagline, ‘White is Purity’, because not too surprisingly, people considered it racist. Advertising companies should learn from this to consider the different ways in which a message can be interpreted, regardless of the actual message they are trying to convey.



In May 2017, McDonald’s pulled an advert that was criticised for exploiting the deep emotional issue of child bereavement. The advert showed a child who is sad due to feeling that he has little in common with his late father. He is cheered up when his mother says that both him and his father liked the same McDonald’s meal. Perhaps to avoid the backlash that this commercial received, it is best to avoid mixing commercial products with serious emotional matters, so as not to make light of and trivialise them.

If you would like to find out more about our digital marketing services call Upperdog on 01202 798 820, or email hello@upperdog.co.uk.