In the digital age, it’s important now more than ever to keep things under control by keeping a close eye and put out fires before they spread. If you catch it late, this can turn into a brand crisis and rather than putting out fires, your containing them. While failures play an important part on the path to success, they can hurt brand images and possibly effect profits. 2017 was not the best year for some brands, but there are lessons other marketers can take away and learn from these failures.
Here are the biggest brand fails of 2017 and what we learned from them.
Uber has spent almost all of 2017 in the news and almost none of it was positive. First, the surged prices to JFK Airport during a taxi strike to protest against Trump’s immigration ban, then an employee filed sexual harassment claims followed by a CMO and CEO resigning. To top off the year, Uber deliberately hid an entire systems hack from users, drivers, and the world. It’s safe to say that Uber is most definitely in a brand crisis.
What to take away: When a brand doesn’t align with a customer’s beliefs and values, that’s when trouble begins to brew. Keep a consistent message and make sure your brand image is in line with those beliefs. Honesty and transparency is key when it comes to attracting customers.
Their Facebook ad of a black woman taking off her shirt and turning white after using the lotion caused a lot of controversy across the internet. Dove has always been an advocate for women of different backgrounds, which is what made this ad so surprising to viewers. They eventually pulled the ad and apologized for the misconception.
What to take away: Again, look over your content from all perspectives and think about all the different ways it can be taken out of context.
The most widely talked about advertisement of 2017 featuring Kendall Jenner, Pepsi’s marginalization of the today’s current societal issues. From vague signs to using a Pepsi to peacefully level with police officers, this ad did not resonate with anyone. Using a Kardashian-Jenner as the face of a brand trying to solicatise a movement was not the smartest decision. It’s safe to say that a lot of things went wrong and the press was bad.
What to take away: When trying to bring awareness to a movement, pick one and stick with it. If there is a face to your brand, make sure their values and views align with the movement your brand is supporting. Take note of how Heineken did the same thing, but mastered it.
Earlier this year, Nivea released this ad on their social media pages. While they possibly meant no harm, this ad was seen as racist among viewers by donning the line “White is Purity.” Since then, Nivea has apologized and taken down the image.
What to take away: When creating content, think of every possible way people could mistake its context. People will read and view things differently and the consensus of the content creation team is not the consensus of the world or your target audience.
It all started with dragging a passenger off an airplane and went downhill from there. On top of the action, the CEO’s response seemed to claim no apologies in any way to how the United employees handled the situation. Between this and shaming a girl for wearing leggings on her flight, United has not had the best brand image.
What to take away: While you can’t predict the things that go wrong, how a brand handles it after the fact makes all of the difference. When figuring things out, brands need to make a point of being humble until all of the facts are released after the situation.