Worst Advertising Mistakes When Promoting Your Brand

February 6, 2024

You know how they say it’s good to learn from someone else’s mistakes? That’s especially true when it comes to brand promotion. We thought we’d share with you some of the worst brand promotion mistakes, so you can try to avoid them in your own campaigns.

Common Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

1. Unintended Messages

Nivea, a skincare brand, released an ad for its deodorant that told consumers “white is purity” . While it seems the intention of the ad was to encourage people to protect white clothing from sweat stains with deodorant, the ads were widely interpreted as racist. The lesson from this mistake is that even your most innocent ads may contain unintended messages, which may be hard for you to see coming from the perspective of your industry. Always share your ad widely and seek expert counsel about how your ad will be received before it goes live.

2. Exploitation over Usefulness

After a series of hurricanes left widespread damage in 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used his company’s VR app to tour the disaster area. During his live stream of the tour, Zuckerberg called the video a “magical tour” . He was widely criticized for exploiting the crisis. By not matching his tone to the serious event he was cataloging, Zuckerberg made it seem as though he was exploiting the tragedy, not trying to show volunteers or disaster relief staff how they might use the app to help people. The lesson is to be sensitive to your audience, particularly to tragedy and people’s pain. Even if your brand can be genuinely useful to people in crisis, you can easily be misinterpreted.

3. Not Fact-Checking

In an attempt to celebrate the United States’ goal in the 2014 World Cup versus Ghana, Delta airlines tweeted out a picture. They chose the Statue of Liberty to represent the U.S. and a giraffe to represent Ghana. The problem is, there are no giraffes in Ghana . A simple fact-check could have cleared this issue up, but instead Delta faced a world of backlash online. Their subsequent apology tweet wasn’t well received either. The lesson here is to fact-check, especially on social media, and not allow one person to generate and publish a tweet. Everyone needs oversight in marketing and having an advertising team of multiple members who can double-check information can help to catch small errors before they become huge issues. Also, apologize with specificity. Delta simply said, “We’re sorry for our choice of photo.” They should have added that they understood why people felt it was insensitive and potentially racist.

Additional Common Mistakes to Avoid

Although they may seem like insignificant tips, making simple efforts to avoid overly talking about your products and services, ignoring your audience (especially when they have criticisms), making assumptions about them, or relying too much on the examples of others are all surefire ways to market poorly. Instead, remember to seek council from outside resources for a fresh perspective, do your own research where possible, and listen to your audience and what they truly want.

More Brand Promotion Guidance

Thinking about your next campaign? Work with ProForma for your brand promotion efforts. We offer award-winning brand promotion, without the steep agency fees. Reach out to us today.

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