Top Ten Marketing #fails of 2014

December 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Thewlis

It’s December, which means you are likely to see a number of 2014 top tens bouncing about on the interwebs. This one, however, is from the lovely folks at Marketing magazine and list the top 10 marketing fails of 2014.

Some we remember fondly, and others passed us sneakily by. Enjoy.

10. While skilfully drafted, Paddy Power’s Oscar Pistorious ad was not judged to be a winner by many, drawing a record 5525 complaints to the ASA. The ad, which offered a ‘money back if he walks’ guarantee for bets placed on the verdict of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial, was a play on words, but the betting firm seriously misjudged how funny the nation would find murder of a young South African woman. Or was it culpable homicide? Even taking the piss out of someone with no legs kind of paled next to that.

youre on coke Top Ten Marketing #fails of 2014

9. Coca Cola has had a number of massive marketing blunders over the years (Dasani anyone?) and this isn’t even it’s only appearance in the top ten. This campaign, which appeared fleetingly in North America probably sounded like a good idea on paper. “You’re on”, like everyone who drinks Coke is a film star or something else glamorous and vital. Unfortunately, when displayed on billboards, it looked like they were encouraging people to go out and take Class A drugs instead. Which was presumably not the original plan.

8. were probably patting themselves on the back around the time of the Scottish referendum- they’d already planned an ad campaign to go live once the yes vote came in. Unfortunately for, the result didn’t go as planned, but that’s no reason to waste a good advert, and they sent it out anyway. The ad generated buzz for all the wrong reasons, causing to issue a Union flag themed apology, saying they had “accidentally hit send on an email we prepared in case of a ‘yes’ vote for Scottish independence”. They later tried to backtrack and claim it was all a deliberately provoking viral marketing ploy. Yeah right.

7. 2014 has been a bad year for Tesco. The once-unassailable supermarket giant has seen its fortunes turn dramatically, with the icing on the cake being the announcement that they had fiddled the figures, to the tune of over £250m.

Tesco blamed the humungous error to problems in the way in which it recognised income from suppliers. Eight senior manag­ers, including UK managing director Chris Bush, were asked to BOGOF. Not even cheesy Shakespearean sonnets can save things now.

6. Tech companies and women. When will women learn their place? Microsoft Chief Exec Satya Nadella told women earlier this year that they have no need to ask for pay rises and should instead put their trust in the system. His brilliant career advice, given  at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing claimed that not asking for a rise was “good karma” that would help a boss realise the employee could be trusted and should have more responsibility. Like maybe carrying his briefcase or something.

But Microsoft isn’t the only tech company rubbing women up the wrong way. Both Apple and Facebook proudly added egg-freezing to their employee benefits. After all, women can’t have a comparable career without freezing eggs can they? Far better to wait until you’ve actually dried up to have children…

american apparel Top Ten Marketing #fails of 2014

5. Seedy clothing retailer American Apparel had its ads banned by the ASA, after their latest campaign was centred on up-skirt photos of schoolgirls. The campaign included pictures of a model bent over touching the ground, revealing her crotch and underwear, and another showing a woman bending over. The ASA concluded that “the ads had the effect of inappropriately sexualising school-age girls and were therefore offensive and irresponsible”, and that the ads “had not been prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers or to society”.

American Apparel were entirely unrepentant, claiming that they were famed for their provocative ads, and people should have expected it from them. Oh, that’s OK then. To be fair, their ads have been banned before, and another 2014 campaign featured mannequins with merkins. Let’s all look forward to 2015 with trepidation.

4. Let’s face it, the 2014 World Cup was a fairly rubbish affair, and the insult of the national team’s performance was only matched by the money-grabbing antics of Nike, who were charging £90 for the replica kit, that lasted all of 3 games, and was the fourth kit produced in 12 months.

The Telegraph ‘Sport’ summed it up most succintly: “England may have a history of underachievement on the field, but the new shirt, made by Nike, shows they are world leaders in what they charge supporters.”

3. Coca Cola got in trouble again this year when they rejigged their ‘Reasons to believe’ advert, which was intended to show there is “more good than bad in the world”. The Irish version cut a gay-marriage scene, replacing it with a St Patrick’s Day shot instead.

Coca Cola claimed they cut the scene as gay marriage is still illegal in Ireland, but critics felt Coca Cola were compromising their principles by cutting the scene in this one specific market. Especially after this “you can’t write ‘gay’ on coke bottles” story.

2. Everyone loves Facebook. Except when they start messing with your head and trying to make you sad. Research undertaken in partnership with Cornell University and the University of California in 2012 saw users’ news feeds altered to control the proportion of negative or positive posts that appeared. The study concluded that Facebook could influence whether users felt more positive or negative by doing this.

When the details were announced in 2014, it was fairly clear that almost everyone felt angry and aggrieved at being fiddled with by Facebook.

u2 500x500 Top Ten Marketing #fails of 2014

1. You have to feel a bit sorry for Apple. Not for long and only a tiny bit, but they must have been most surprised to discover that not everyone wants something for free. Free is no good if you don’t actually want it.

This is, of course, the ‘coup’ Apple pulled off by having U2’s new album given free to every iTunes user. Except rather than jumping up and down with glee at a free album, many consumers were at best disgruntled and at worst rabidly annoyed that Apple felt it had the right (and the access) to poke around in people’s music libraries. U2 didn’t come out of it well either, and the whole shebang led to users frantically searching how to delete an unwanted U2 album from iTunes, before Apple itself was forced to create a tool to do the job for you. Fortunately, there was already a tool in U2…

Twitter Logo1 Twitter to start spying on your apps (and how to turn it off)Twitter have unveiled their plans to start collecting information on the apps that users have upon their phones and tablet devices.

They reckon it would allow them to monitor and target Twitter users with specially tailored advertising. Sounds like spying and invading people’s privacy to us, but that’s the internet for you.

According to a post on Twitter’s help page, Twitter said it would target people who use its app on all mobile devices that run Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.

It continues: “To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and occasionally updating the list of apps installed on your mobile device so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in.”

The social network claim that they will only collect names of applications that users, um, use, rather than the contents and data from them, so the social media behemoth can help to build graph data to personalise each tweeter’s Twitter experience.

Twitter will automatically opt its users into the new data collection service, but if you’d like to turn it off, here’s how.

How to turn this feature off and remove my data from Twitter

If you use Twitter for Android:

Tap the overflow icon (the thing in the top right that looks like three dots)
Hit ‘Settings’
Tap the account you’d like to tinker with
Under ‘Other’, you can adjust the setting to ‘Tailor Twitter’ based on your apps

If you use Twitter for iOS:

From the Me tab, press the cog button
Hit ‘Settings’
Click on the account you’d like to edit
Under ‘Privacy’, you can adjust the setting to ‘Tailor Twitter’ based on your apps.

Google to offer ad-free internet (it’ll cost you)

November 21st, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

google Google to offer ad free internet (itll cost you)Adverts on the internet can be a bit annoying and ad-blockers only work for certain things. So if you’ve been craving an advert-free internet, Google might have something.

But it will cost you.

Basically, Google have unveiled a new service called ‘Contributor by Google’ and the company say: “Today’s Internet is mostly funded by advertising. But what if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?”

What this means is that you’ll be asked to ‘contribute’ between $1-$3 per month which will go to the website in question (and, you have to assume, Google will take a cut too). You can pay more than the minimum offered too, which basically means, if you really, really like a website, you can throw coins in their cup. Regardless of what you offer, you’ll get the same service.

The Onion, Mashable, Imgur, Urban Dictionary and WikiHow have already signed-up for this, and Google have also said that there’s more on board too, as these are just “a few” of the confirmed partners.

So what happens to the adverts? Well, they’ll be replaced by a thank-you message or a pixellated box, which doesn’t sound like a better option, but there you go.

Google say: “When you visit a participating website, part of your contribution goes to the creators of that site. As a reminder of your support, you’ll see a thank you message – often accompanied by a pixel pattern – where you might normally see an ad.”

If you’re interested, have a look at Google’s dedicated page here.

Aldi to launch pop-up restaurants

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

aldi logo 252x300 Aldi to launch pop up restaurantsAldi are entering the restaurant business… sort of. The discount supermarket have announced that they’re opening a few pop-up restaurants around the country ahead of Christmas.

The restaurants will be serving up a meal planned by chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.

The events will happen in selected hotels such as Blythswood Square Hotel and Home House between November 21st and December 10th.

You can try your luck to win a reservation by tweeting @AldiUK using #AldiFestiveFeast as your hastag.

Naturally all the food served will be sourced from Aldi’s Specially Selected range, including such fare as caviar, crab, turkey wellingtons and Christmas pudding.

(Actually their Christmas pudding is well nice).

Joint managing director of corporate buying, Tony Baines said: “Jean-Christophe Novelli has put together a luxury menu that shows off our festive range to the full and offers better value than other supermarkets. We hope that our consumers will enjoy it.”

Tesco launch Secret Scan-ta app

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Tesco Clubcard are hoping to help you find the perfect gift via Twitter! They’ve teamed up with We Are Social to create a campaign that endeavours the find the ideal gift for people via Twitter.

The Secret Scan-ta (OH GOD YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE) app will focus on the cheaper end of goods they offer, rather than stuff like tellies and fridges.

secret scanta 500x363 Tesco launch Secret Scan ta app

Both Clubcard customers and non-customers can input the Twitter handle of a person they are buying the gift for, and then Secret Scan-ta will sift through that particular Twitter account sourcing info on what sort of people and organisation the user follows.

Then using this data – which they’ll probably store away and cite you as a stalker or something in the future – the Scan-ta will offer up gift solutions which they have in stock.

Clubcard members who input their Clubcard vouchers at the start of the search will find their voucher value doubled and deducted from the gift’s price if they go ahead with the purchase.

And that’s not all, each week five winners will be selected at random from those who have used the app to receive 5,000 Clubcard points, and one ultimate winner will be in with a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy S5.

Katie Aust digital marketing manager from Tesco Clubcard, said: “Christmas, although a happy season, can often bring with it panic and stress of buying gifts. This campaign gives the buyer get a bit of genuine insight into what the recipient is really interested in, resulting in a personal, and thoughtful gift. It also promotes the huge offerings of the Tesco gifting range and the benefits of joining Clubcard and boosting vouchers.”

So, ‘gifting’ – we’re saying that now, are we?

Christmas AdWatch: Samsung

November 19th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Samsung are entering the TV advertising arena this season with their first Christmas campaign!

The series of ads will showcase the company’s range of gadgets while soundtracked by the decidedly ponce and unfestive Ravel’s Bolero. Mercifully, it doesn’t involve this gawdawful rap.

The adverts entitled ‘All Wrapped Up Early’ and ‘Christmas Round Ours’ are already on Samsung’s YouTube channel. All Wrapped Up will be on TV tonight (19th Nov) during that I’m A Celebrity nonsense, and ‘Christmas Round Ours’ makes its TV debut next Monday.

Russell Taylor, vice president of corporate marketing at Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland said: “Christmas provides the perfect platform for us to communicate with a large base of Samsung customers and will help to make the UK’s biggest tech brand also its most loved one.”

The Galaxy Note 4 takes centre stage in ‘All wrapped up early’ celebrating the brand’s flagship smartphone. ‘Christmas round ours’ showcases the whole Samsung range.

Will it persuade you to ask for a Samsung for Christmas? Didn’t think so.

biscuits Some consumers cant tell the difference between brandsA lot of people can’t tell the difference between own-branded and branded goods, according to a survey by Which!!!

Which!!! asked 7,855 members various questions, and discovered that around a quarter of them have difficulty telling the brands from the own-brands, and have sometimes ended up buying the own brand goods by mistake! (the clots).

One of the main examples used was the similarity between McVitie’s Ginger Nuts and Lidl’s Tower Gate Ginger Nuts (pictured). Once the brand names had been blocked off, 39% of respondents confused Lidl with McVitie’s.

Other own-brands that the research suggested bore an uncanny resemblance to branded labels included Aldi’s Snackrite Thick Ridged Crisps (similar to McCoy’s), and Lidl’s Newgate Cream of Tomato Soup (similar to Heinz).

According to legal professional Lee Curtis, partner and trademark attorney at law firm HGF, says the basic test for a design right infringement is if the non-brand gives of the air of the real brand, but even if that’s the case, Curtis says: “Most of the main offenders for copying are big supermarkets. Brand owners will be scared of their commercial power and of being delisted – for many, supermarkets are their biggest customers, and they don’t want the hassle.”

Some companies have tried to legalise elements of their branding, but for some to no avail. Such is the case for Cadbury, which last year lost a legal battle to secure exclusive rights to Pantone 3685c purple in chocolate packaging.

Christmas AdWatch: Cadbury and Vodafone

November 14th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

The Christmas advert season is in full swing now, with few left to showcase their festive wares. While it seems that we may have reached the peaks with Monty The Penguin and Sainsbury’s tribute to Paul McCartney’s ‘Pipes of Peace’ video, there are still some companies hoping to woo you in with imagery of stressed ordinary folk in woolly hats enjoying a reasonable Christmas.

Vodafone’s seasonal effort features a variety of scenarios wherein actors perform ‘Let It Go’ from that Frozen. It’s basically saying “hang out with Vodafone as we can offer Sky Movies and TV shows with NOWTV, included on Vodafone Red 4G”

They’ve also done the admin ahead for you hashtag-wise, with the unsightly #powertothefestive, which plumbs new lows in meaninglessness.

Meanwhile Cadburys have gone into the Christmas ad market with a tie-up with ITV. A series of adverts feature star “talent” from the station such as Fearne Cotton, Keith Lemon, Paddy McGuinness, Christine Bleakley, Phillip Schofield and Stephen Mulhern. Because Daniel Day Lewis was busy probably.

The tie-in with ITV will also see Cadbury’s sponsor Christmas programming on the channel, including Catchphrase Christmas Special and the All Star Family Fortunes Christmas Special.

According to Simon Daglish, group commercial sales director at ITV: “Cadbury are the perfect fit for this exciting and unique partnership with ITV to unwrap joy across the festive period. The innovative activity is a great example of how ITV can work closely with advertisers and talent across a number of platforms to deliver a highly dynamic and unique campaign.”

If the idea of Cadburys condoning Keith Lemon is enough to drive you off chocolate for life, then these adverts will have done their job.

Behold the novelty Tesco Christmas sweatshirt

November 14th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Christmas jumpers. You either love them or hate them. Or just buy them anyway and go “Look at me! LOL!”

Somehow in recent years, what was seen as a bit naff has become quite a thing, and now everyone is making moves into this increasing lucrative market, with bands people such as Slayer, Queens of the Stone Age and the Wu Tang Clan offering variations on such festive themes.

Well anyway, some enterprising spark over on eBay has come up with a jolly cheery design, which takes Tesco’s Value range and spoofs that on a sweatshirt.

tesco jumper 500x487 Behold the novelty Tesco Christmas sweatshirt

Maybe Tesco are too busy with other concerns to worry about copyright on this occasion.

Unfortunately, for a value sweatshirt, it actually costs £18.95 (with another £2.95 post and packaging) and so the original chuckle is lost slightly at the expense of the wearer.

Anyway, if you fancy one, head here now before your works Christmas party, or whatever function requires you to dress up like a div.

Pinterest looking into becoming an online shop

November 13th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

pinterest 300x300 Pinterest looking into becoming an online shopPinterest have announced that they are to enter the retail browsing racket.

The site where people take pics of things for followers to go “Oooh” at, is wanting a piece of the online retail action, and is in talks as to how to monetize the site.

The chap in charge of engineering at Pinterest, Michael Lopp, claimed that the company was looking to redefine how consumers find goods online.

This comes after Adobe reckoned that Pinterest could become a goldmine, and even projected that it would overtake Facebook.

Lopp said: “When we think of retrieving information, we think of search. If you don’t have a keyword though, you’re out of luck and if you want to browse, search engines are the wrong tool. We call this the discovery problem. There’s a big opportunity to help people browse and discover ideas and projects before they’re ready for search phase.”

Pinterest hopes to be the place where consumers check out new and exciting things, rather than the dull old search engines of Google and Amazon.

Pinterest is responsible for 23% of referrals to e-commerce sites. Lopp also stated that there are 30 billion pinned posts on the social network with that number growing by an average of 25% every quarter.

And there’s us thinking it was just used by a bunch of girls gawping at photos of things that they can’t afford.

Christmas AdWatch: Sainsburys

November 13th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Sainsburys have revealed their Christmas advert, and it’s quite the tearjerker.

The full length clip was shown on ITV during Surprise Surprise, features a dramatisation of the Christmas Day truce in 1914 when English and German soldiers gave up killing each other for a bit and had a game of football.

It begins with each side in their respective trenches singing Silent Night/ Stille Nacht and the thawing between the warring sides starts. The they leave the trenches to say hello to each other and enjoy a game of footy.

The ad has been made in partnership with The Royal British Legion, who the supermarket have had a long association with.

‘Christmas is for Sharing’ is the name of the campaign and the chocolate bar (well, copies of) that is featured in the clip will be available instore across Christmas for £1, with all proceeds going to the Royal British Legion.

What’s that? Oh, just got something in our eye.

sainsburys 300x192 Sainsburys app will destroy checkout time by literally secondsSainsbury’s are trialling a new and exciting app, even though they can’t be bothered to give it a proper name yet. Either way, it is being tested in various stores in the next few weeks.

The gadget enhancement allows Nectar-holding customers to build a ‘virtual basket’ of products they’re most keen on, before they shop. It also helps them navigate around the chosen branch, and will even allow for customers to scan and pay at the shelf through a mobile.


The supermarket reckons it will shave minutes off your life spent in their stores. That could really backfire though, eh?

Other upgrades include more flexible delivery slots, with bookings on the half hour as well as the hour, and greener delivery options allowing shoppers to book slots in one vehicle if it’s delivering to neighbours. Far out, maaaaan.

Sainsbury’s digital and technology director Jon Rudoe has weighed in with a say: “We know that customers’ weekly shop doesn’t start at our front door – they know what they like and they also like that search for a bargain. They still want to come into store – but with limited time, they want to be able to get their shop done quickly. That’s why we’re putting digital firmly at the forefront of our agenda, and putting technology in the hands of our customers”.

At least he didn’t say solutions, but for a moment there, we were all thinking it.

Touch the Coca Cola truck!

November 10th, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade


Yes, you might have noticed a recent upsurge of signifiers in recent days of Christmas actually coming. Seriously. It’s not pissing about – it’s on its way. And so naturally one’s thoughts immediately turn to the Coca-Cola truck.

The red and white truck festooned with festivery, will be calling at 45 main shopping areas from November 28 at The Plainstones in Elgin, and wandering the highways of the country, before ending up – as most UK tours do – in London, at Wembley Park Boulevard on December 23rd.

There’s a full interactive map affair of the dates here so you can check when you can go and touch the truck. Or just check out a hot bearded trucker who is into gift-giving.

You can, obviously, follow the truck via social media on @cokezone (which sounds like a Complete Ledge night out).

Not much else is specified as to what will go on while the trucks are parked. No doubt some activities and free carbonated syrupy gloop. Perhaps it’s a trap like The Childcatcher sprung in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to abduct the town’s children.

Christmas AdWatch: Asda and Aldi

November 7th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

With John Lewis unveiling their Christmas advert – the jolly penguin soundtracked by a limped through cover of a Beatles outtake – it’s truly the season for bumper festive adverts! HURRAH!

Shall we have a look at how they’re shaping up? No? Well we are, so tough.

First up: Asda

‘Smile, it’s an Asda Christmas’ is the tag, and basically while Asda isn’t the worst out there, it would nice to have something slightly more to smile about than Asda running your things.

There’s trees, stockings and food ahoy – basically the key touchstones which Asda will no doubt be hoping to reach out and engage with you with.

It also sees X Factor’s Jahmene Douglas covering Louis Armstrong’s ‘When You’re Smiling’. Remember him? Sure you do – he’s the one with a perfectly square head.

Here’s what Steve Smith, chief customer officer of Asda, said: “We’re really proud of our Christmas brand campaign this year as it captures those personal touches and thoughtful gestures that put a smile on people’s faces at Christmas. We know our customers want to make their festivities special, and we want to remind them that we have put the thought and imagination into a range of fantastic food, wine, gifts and decorations so all they need to focus on is having fun together.”

Smith added: “This year has been challenging for all supermarkets but Christmas is a time to concentrate on celebrating and having fun with friends and family and laughing.”

There speaks a man who sounds like he’ll be found hiding in the shed come Christmas afternoon, running his fingers over his new power saw after an arduous lunch with the family.

Next: Aldi

This is a big deal for the supermarket that has been biting at the heels of the big four this last year. Quietly grooving their own scene and building upon that with a minute-long ad featuring various families and gathering enjoying a variety of festive feasts before Jools Holland turns up.

That’s right: Jools Holland is not just for New Year’s Eve this year.

Joint managing director of corporate buying at Aldi, Giles Hurley, said: “We know Christmas is an important time for our customers and we believe everyone should enjoy the best without having to pay a hefty price tag, which is why we’ve launched a Christmas range with widespread appeal.”

“Aldi is becoming a cornerstone of the grocery shop. We’re looking to reflect this in the Christmas campaign, while highlighting the superb quality of the products Aldi offer as well as the unbeatable value. The commercial also demonstrates to consumers it is possible to do your entire food shop for Christmas at Aldi.”

To be honest, we’re quite relieved there’s been no mention of solutions or platforms.

money 300x168 Cash converters uses irresponsible advertising to try and lure new victimsPayday lenders never learn. The latest culprit to be smacked on the wrist by the ASA is that stalwart of many a fine High Street, Cash Converters who, in addition to offering buy back and pawnbroking services, also offer payday and personal loans.

The problem is, as ever, that the advertising used by this type of company is not ‘responsible’ and encourages people (especially the people who can least afford it) to get into debt for things other than necessities.

The latest ASA ruling concerns a particular direct mailing ad that was sent out in the summer encouraging people to raise a “bit of extra money” in order to pay for “summer holidays”, a “new BBQ” and a “Kiss me Quick hat for the beach”. All these things are lovely things to have, but perhaps not worth getting yourself into sky-high APR loan agreements for.

The advertisement was challenged on the grounds that it was “irresponsible” and “encouraged frivolous spending.”

Cash Converters claimed the ad was not at all irresponsible, pointing the ASA to their strongly worded risk warning at the bottom of the ad- “Warning: Late payment can cause serious money problems.” They also claimed that the Kiss me Quick hat reference (not even they could find anything to say that would not constitute frivolous spending) was intended to be understood as a purchase that could be made from buyback cash (when you sell DVDs or games, for example, to the shop for a fraction of their cost), rather than something for which consumers should take out a loan.

Buybacks are not subject to the consumer credit regime, and the more stringent rules. They also stressed they would not lend money to people who could not afford it, a claim disputed by the fact that their latest published accounts show a massive increase in provision for bad debts (i.e. people who actually don’t repay their loan) up from £2.5m to £10.2m

In any case, the ASA chucked out Cash Converters claims, deciding that summer holidays, entertaining the children, buying a new barbeque and a “Kiss Me Quick” hat for the beach were all purchases that were “unlikely to be considered essential purchases and that the references to them suggested that taking out a loan or other type of cash advance for them was something that could be approached lightly.” They found that the ad therefore encouraged frivolous spending and was categorically irresponsible. The ASA also told Cash Converters to “ensure that their future advertising was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.”

Well, we can all hope can’t we…