Brands spend loads of money on marketing and building their brand reputation, but sometimes-gross mistakes put all that at stake. Most ads that come from brands go through scrutiny and check, right from different levels at the agency and the brand’s internal team and yet sometimes both the marketers and advertisers don’t realize what they are putting out in the open before public responds to it. Even at the cost of sometimes trying to sound funny or creative, they end up offending the audience.
And even if you are an established brand or just starting up, you can always learn from the mistakes that these brands made
In an attempt to come up with cheeky abbreviations of Butter Chicken and Mac N Cheese, the outdoor hoardings read BC and MC in a large font, but it did not go down too well with the audience as both BC and MC are abbreviations for common swear words in, Hindi. Some found it sexist while others found it crass and shameful. People had quite an outrageous reaction towards the ad
Learning: Try avoiding abbreviations that lead to misinterpretations and keep your communication clean and clear.
“It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” – This was the slogan Parker Pen Company came up for their ballpoint pen.
The company intended to highlight its product USP, but when translated in Spanish, the meaning took a very different turn, it meant, “it won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
Learning: Check meanings of the words you use in other languages too.
One of the most controversial ads of all times, the ad featured then supermodels Madhu Sapre and Milind Soman. They were seen embarrassed in each other’s arms with only a big python covering their bodies and wearing just the shoes. The ad was banned for obscenity and also received a lot of negativity from the animal rights bodies for illegally using the python.
Learning: Its better to stay away from obscenity and also the use of animals in a wrong and illegal way. The last thing you would want people condemning your ad for all the bad elements.
Honda launched its new car, which was then called Honda Fit, and it went as Fitta in European markets. Soon the brand realized that ‘fitta’ actually meant female genitalia in Swedish. Thankfully they not just realized but also corrected their mistake and renamed the car as Honda Jazz and in this case, the rebranding did help them resurrect their image.
Learning: The faster you learn and correct your mistake, the better it would be for your overall brand image.
Ayds was actually a candy company from the 1970s and it was pronounced as AIDS. All was well with the brand until the audience became aware of the phonetically similar disease AIDS. Even though the brand changed its name to Diet Ayds, because of its appetite suppressant feature, the weight loss was associated with the symptom of AIDS and eventually, the company had to withdraw from the market.
Learning: Sometimes rebranding is necessary even if your brand is popular.