5 Epic Brand Fails On Social Media & What You Can Learn From Them

We live in an age where the audience is VERY VERY Conscious and Sensitive to a lot of social issues that affect all of our daily lives. It has become important for brands to understand how to uphold their brand morals and values; also how to get the audience to identify with them and make a mark.

Why talk about this?

Mistakes happen!

It is only natural that the brands we love can also make mistakes. After all, behind that brand is a normal human being (Or many), like you and me.

But, we need to talk about this so that we can learn from the mistakes others made!

Some of these brands did a brilliant job at tackling the crisis and upholding their Image while others failed miserably and got thrashed by the audience for disappointing them.

Now you may be familiar with some of these posts. (They took the Internet by a storm) The objective here is to not just look at the mistakes but to also understand what they did right OR what they could’ve done to make it right.

Fail #1 The time when Cadbury was accused of racism

Source: extra.ie

Cadbury had launched a new ‘Limited Edition Unity Bar’, which was essentially a bigger sized chocolate bar with four chocolate sections for Dark, Blended, Milk and White. Their well-intended goal was to highlight the idea of Unity in Diversity of India.

However, the limited-edition launch took the internet by a storm for all the wrong reasons. The brand was accused of colourism, racism, promoting segregation and white supremacy.

While the brand stood by its campaign, it also created an intense discussion on twitter. While some applauded the brand’s efforts, many also criticized it for not being sensitive enough.

Lesson Learnt: It is good for brands to support causes, but you have to be very careful about the communication you put out on Social Media. While it can get a conversation going, the tone may not always end in your favour, irrespective of your well-meaning intentions.

Fail #2 The time Starbucks India kept mum

Source: Screengrab from Facebook

Starbucks India soon after its launch was criticized heavily on Facebook and Twitter. A customer was allegedly ill-treated at one of their Delhi Stores the Staff. The Customer took to the digital world to express their discontent and the posts went viral.

The brand in turn, instead of confronting the customer to solve the issues amicably, ignored the whole ordeal which just made it worse. The whole incident reached thousands of people because it got shared by influencers and journalists too. And everybody was pissed with Starbucks India.

Lesson Learnt: They could have acknowledged the mistakes that may have been made by their staff and apologized for it. It would have easily helped the brand appear more humane. However, they chose to remain silent and lost the good faith of many customers.

Don’t ignore the criticism you receive on social media! Acknowledge it and show your audience that you are willing to learn from it and move forward

Fail #3 The time when Dominos broke their promise of 100 pizzas for 100 years

Dominoes launched a campaign in Russia, where they would give 100 pizzas for 100 years to customers for free in return of the customer’s getting the brand’s logo tattooed on themselves.

What the brand didn’t anticipate was the landslide of pizza-loving customers who would happily get inked. The promotion that was supposed to run for months had to be ended abruptly within days. What’s worse? The brand had to revise the guidelines for the promotions restricting the maximum number of giveaways, that too after they launched the offer and so many people had already taken up the challenge.

Lesson Learnt: Be careful of the promotional activities you plan on social media as they may sometimes fare much better than you anticipate too. You need to set guidelines for your promotion before launch and then stick to those guidelines.

Fail #4 The time when Huggies was called out for being sexist

Huggies, the globally famous diaper brand was accused of being sexist because of a campaign they launched that showed fathers in poor light with their caretaking abilities for their children. Obviously all the Fathers were enraged and smashed the brand with major backlash for being sexist and promoting gender stereotypes.

The brand handled it quite well though. They acknowledged their mistakes, quickly took down the campaign and relaunched a new campaign instead. From the original tagline which promoted the idea that leaving children alone with their Dads was the ultimate test, they revamped the whole campaign to say that maybe the Dads should put the brand through the ultimate tests.

Lesson Learnt: There is no shame in taking a step back and apologizing. It takes a brave brand to come back stronger, but when you do, you also become a stronger brand.

Fail #5 The time when Dove appeared to be giving the boot to Real Beauty

Dove has long stood tall as an advocate for breaking the norms of beauty and accepting the idea that beauty is not standardized. So what happened? They launched an ad campaign where a dark-skinned woman basically transformed into a white skin woman after using the Brand’s Body Wash.

The whole idea was considered to be a tight slap in the face of everything the brand stood for. While they spoke about acceptance and not standardizing beauty, their one ad campaign set them back years.

Surely, that wasn’t the intention of the brand but that is how it was perceived.

Lesson Learnt: Sometimes you have to take a step back and review your ideas and contents from the eyes of the audience. Detach yourself from the brand and ideas; think about how your audience will see this before putting anything out there. Some damages cannot be undone.