#2. The Great Coke Blowjob
In the early '90s, the South Pacific Coke Region wanted young soda pop drinkers to really feel the joy of a salty-sweet Coke in their mouths. Hoping to recapture some of the magic their parents felt holding that long, hard, curved bottle of yesteryear, Coke launched a classic, retro-style container aimed at younger customers, with the slogan "Feel the Curves." They contracted with a small graphic design firm in order to best milk the creative shaft of the cultural zeitgei-
All right, look, we're running out of subtle dick puns here, people. Coke put a blowjob on the poster, OK?
"I don't see- Oh. Oooooooooh."
It wasn't a fluke or some kind of phallus-based Rorschach test: One of the graphic designers intentionally inserted a surreptitious silhouette of a girl about to mouth-fight the fleshy Odin into the picture's foreground. Unfortunately, all of the posters were shipped out and displayed before the ice cube blowjob was discovered, and were, in fact, only spotted after the ads had been blown up to their fullest and erected on the sides of delivery trucks. All told, Coke blew huge loads of money (OK, so we lied about running out of dick puns earlier) on the recall process, marking the first and last time anybody ever dropped a ton of cash on stopping a blowjob.
But it really went with their slogan, "This bottle doubles as an awesome dildo."
#1. Chevy: Make Your Own Commercial
It's rarely ever a good thing when a company decides to "tap into viral marketing." At best, you get an Old Spice ad or two; at worst, you get yet another rapping grandma video.
Or at least that's what we used to think the worst possible fallout for a viral marketing attempt could be, until Chevy's "Make Your Own Tahoe Commercial" campaign. Basically, the campaign gave massive commercial resources and dedicated space on their official website to anybody who wanted it -- even (as it turned out, especially) to people who actively hated the company. General Motors had just revamped the Tahoe and bought a full episode of The Apprentice (that's the show where celebrities compete to see who has the biggest ego, but the winner is always Donald Trump) to market the car.
"You buy this fucking Tahoe, you stupid cunts!"
For those of you who've seen the Internet before, you know where this is going. (And for those of you who haven't: Welcome! Don't waste any more time here; there's porn literally everywhere. Go, frolic!)
Chevy provided users with a selection of clips of the Tahoe doing generic SUV stuff like climbing mountains and not using its turn signal, then let them choose what clips to play, the order that they'd appear and the dramatic score, and let them add their own custom text to deliver a message. Here was the kind of thing they came up with:
They should feel lucky at the surprising lack of dicks in the photo.
Although GM assumed that the Tahoe's legions of loyal fans would cover the Web with upbeat messages, as anyone who's even glanced sidelong at the Internet while racing by a burning computer lab could probably guess, this was not the case. A few of the submissions were positive, yes, but the ones that went viral were decidedly not.
"Wow, the Internet really showed some class by holding back their racist urges, didn't they?"
Some of the parody ads focused on how SUVs are destroying the environment, some of them called the Tahoe out for being a horrible overall vehicle and others simply encouraged drivers to murder their families. And thanks to the tools Chevy gave the Internet, all of these messages were tacitly endorsed by the company and prominently displayed on Chevy's own website for several days.
On the plus side, Captain Planet villains with low vehicular standards and histories of domestic violence apparently really loved the car.
Chris likes to write music, tweet and check email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Eric Yosomono writes for GaijinAss.com and you should LIKE them on the GaijinAss Facebook page, all the cool kids are doing it!
For more clearly not-good ideas that were executed anyway, check out 5 Corporate Promotions That Ended in (Predictable) Disaster and The 5 Biggest Disasters in the History of Marketing Ideas.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Most Screwed Over Man in the History of Movies.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see what happened when we handed out metal bats to 100 people who wanted them.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infographic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!