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The Most Cringeworthy Marketing Mistakes Of All Time: Top 6!

Chantelle Argent
19 September 2020

In today’s modern age, we are all affected by marketing. A great marketing campaign can linger in our minds for months or even years (M&S Christmas ads anyone?).

But sometimes, we remember a marketing stunt for just how wonderfully terrible it was. We’ve narrowed down the top 6 most cringeworthy marketing mistakes of all time (you’re welcome).

So, without further adieu, here’s what not to do:


Walkers bit off more than they could chew in 2017 when they launched a competition encouraging consumers to post selfies with the hashtag #WalkersWave to win tickets to a big sporting event.

Inevitably, some people couldn’t stop themselves from submitting pictures of serial killers, deviants, dictators, and memes.

Walker’s failure to filter out these entries before they were published for all to see meant that the entire campaign became a laughing stock.

Domino’s Tatts

When it comes to celebrating backfired campaigns, we had to give Domino’s Pizza a slice of the action.

In 2018, Domino’s launched a campaign in Russia, in which they promised free pizza for a year to anyone who got the Domino’s logo tattooed on their bodies.

Turns out people love pizza even more than their own skin, and Domino’s was overwhelmed with hungry consumers taking them up on their generous offer.

The pizza giant then tried to backtrack by adding lots of extra terms and conditions to the campaign, leaving many entrants empty handed and permanently branded.

Long story short, Domino’s really under-delivered, and they couldn’t blame it on their drivers.

New Coke

Ever heard the saying, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it? The Coca-Cola Company hadn’t.

Back in 1985, they completely overhauled their classic Coke formula to try and rival the release of Pepsi and its popular sweet flavor.

Coca-Cola expected their new pop to be met with a bang. Sadly it sparked nothing but a fizzle in sales, with customers crying out for the change to be reversed.

Coca-Cola lost a lot of money (and dignity), finally ditching the new recipe after just 79 days.



Fortunately for The Coca-Cola Company, Pepsi is certainly no stranger to a marketing blunder.

In 1963, Pepsi rolled out the slogan ‘Come Alive! You’re In The Pepsi Generation’, in a campaign aimed at attracting younger consumers.

Sadly, their message went a little wayward when it was translated in China to ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead’.

Now, that’s some serious caffeine.

Free music for you, you, and U2!

Remember when that U2 album suddenly appeared on your iPhone 5? Yeah, so do we. We’re still trying to get those songs (that we never asked for) out of our heads.

If you were lucky enough not to have your carefully curated playlists invaded, you might not know that back in 2014, Apple ‘gifted’ millions of iTunes users with U2’s Songs Of Innocence album for free.

Good though their intentions were, it turns out most people don’t actually like having U2 shoved down their throats.

To make matters worse, it was also incredibly difficult for people to delete the album from their devices, so for a while we just couldn’t live with or without U2.

Heinz Gets Saucy

Last, but by no means least, is a campaign from Heinz that didn’t quite cut the mustard.

In 2015, Heinz released ketchup bottles with a scannable QR code intended to direct consumers to a site where they could design their own bottle.

Unfortunately, these bottles remained in circulation long after the code had expired, and it transpired that some consumers were now being directed to a pornographic website.

For the first time ever, R-rated tomato sauces littered the supermarket shelves. Not what you want with your Monday morning bacon sarnie.

Marketing can be a minefield. Luckily, Wiseup offers mentors who will help to ensure that your business treads carefully. Browse our mentors today to start your journey.
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