Branding Blunders: The Third

Moving GIF
Image courtesy of

It’s time for another round of Branding Blunders. Let’s take a look at some more major mistakes made by others. What better way (and more entertaining way) to learn, than to learn from other’s mistakes?

Burger King
Do you know what ingredients go into your burger? Customers in Mayfield Heights, Ohio sure didn’t. The photo above was found on 4chan, a popular, but often nefarious, social website. Which raises the question: Were Burger King executives really browsing 4chan? We can learn a few things from this branding blunder. First, any employee can harm your brand,so choose wisely.

Employee standing in lettuce
Important process in food preparation? Image courtesy of

Second, do not EVER mess with people preparing your food. We have mentioned Burger King before in Branding Blunders because they keep making marketing mistakes. This mistake is more of a publicity issue, however, publicity often falls under marketing.

Apparently “Having it our way” is lettuce crushed with, grimy, smelly rubber from the bottom of a pair of no-slip shoes. Burger King quickly fired the employees involved, but that doesn’t take the gross image out of consumer’s minds. We can’t tell which is worse, this picture or Burger King’s creepy King mascot.

Employee licking food.
Here is a quick way to get fired. Image courtesy of

Taco Bell
Ready for another fast food employee doing something gross? A Taco Bell employee licked taco shells for a picture. After the picture was taken, someone posted the picture to Taco Bell’s Facebook page. Audiences were obviously disgusted because of the nature of the picture. But really, what do you expect from Taco Bell? The picture did not help Taco Bell’s sales, however, the company appears to be somewhat unaffected by the picture’s widespread media coverage. With health and food standards that are already considered to be poor, people didn’t seem to be as surprised when this happened. The real crime is that the employee chose hard shell tacos over soft tacos, which are clearly tastier. Again, the message is loud and clear, companies are responsible for anyone who represents them.

Gap using Hurricane Sandy to promote
Using Hurricane Sandy to promote Very bad idea. Image courtesy of

Someone somewhere at Gap either lacks a moral compass, or left it in their other khaki pants the day of their Hurricane Sandy twitter post. Their post during Hurricane Sandy was offensive, and clearly insincere. In the same tweet where they tell everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy to stay safe, they also made the bold move to do some online marketing for

The Hurricane swept through 24 states, and through Caribbean countries, killing multiple people, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, and causing over $67 billion dollars in damage. Is it really appropriate to market Newsjacking a hurricane story to promote a website is a bad idea. Did that idea pass through multiple levels of management? For the sake of humanity we hope not. Lesson learned, let multiple people review and analyze your post idea before it is posted.

Ashton Kutcher in offensive makeup.
Really? No one at Popchips had an issue with this? Image courtesy of

The chip company, Popchips, attempted to make a funny commercial featuring Ashton Kutcher, because every comedian was apparently busy that day. The ad features Ashton playing different characters in a fake dating video. He plays a hippy, a biker, a creepy fashion expert, and a Bollywood director. When he was dressed up as the Bollywood director, he was given a large fake nose, dark skin, a fake mustache, a horrible wig, and stereotypical Indian clothes. He also spoke in an unbelievably stereotypical Indian accent. Need we say more? Probably not, but let’s analyze this further. This commercial was made by professionals, and was probably staffed by a large number of people including, but not limited to: makeup artists, wardrobe specialists, a film crew, at least one representative from Popchips, editors, and a dog trainer. Not one person thought that some consumers might get offended by this?

The ad also barely mentions Popchips. In fact, if you blink at the wrong time, you would probably assume it was promoting a new dating site. If you spend money on an advertisement, and no one knows what the ad is advertising, isn’t the ad a waste? The commercial was quickly pulled but not before consumers caught word of it and was given indefinite residence on the web.

The Lesson from these Blunders
Think. Disgruntled employees can damage a brand’s image, which is why a proper system needs to be implemented. Whether these employees were angry, immature, or bored, a proper management strategy could have lessened the chances of these unfortunate incidents. Gap made a terrible marketing decision. A natural disaster should never be used for newsjacking. Regardless of how the creators of the Popchips commercial felt, they should have considered how others may view the content. Many branding mistakes are easily avoidable. Consider the repercussions of marketing actions before making the final decision. Your careful scrutiny could save your brand image.

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