6 Ill-Advised Marketing Campaigns That Backfired Hilariously

#3. Levi's Jeans Only Recognizes One Ass Size

Levis

When Levi's released their new Curve ID line of jeans, they tried to come up with an ad campaign that would appeal to women of all shapes and sizes. Bizarrely, their impression of the full spectrum of different ass sizes looked like this:

Wieden + Kennedy and Levis

Critics of the advertisement were quick to point out that it's kind of impossible to tell these three women apart if you cover their heads. It seems as though, having spent too long making size-2 models look good in jeans, the advertising department of Levi's struggled to figure out what a multiplicity of ass sizes would look like. Feeling defeated on their first attempt, they had another go of it ...

Levis via Copyranter

... in which the only way to tell that these aren't all the same model is by comparing cup sizes.

What the Hell Were They Thinking?

After various blogs like Shine and Jezebel and tons of other people called them out on their apparent cluelessness about what a plus-sized woman even looks like, Levi's advertisers struggled to fix the problem -- but couldn't. Despite the fact that the jeans themselves actually are designed for a multitude of body shapes, the advertisers just couldn't bring themselves to show them on the posters.

Wieden + Kennedy and Levis
"Every rainbow has a curve. But all those curves are the same angle."

No, those are different colors. We're talking about shapes. This is literally kindergarten stuff.

It just goes to show that plus-sized women don't sell jeans, even the ones that you're trying to sell to plus-sized women.

#2. The Economist Thinks Women Aren't People

The Economist / Getty

In 2011, The Economist magazine decided that, with only 13 percent of its readers being female, it needed to find a way to market itself better to women. The result was a hilariously poorly worded ad that somehow suggested that women aren't people, which was 180 degrees from what they wanted to get across:

The Economist via The Cut

"Why should women read The Economist? They shouldn't. Accomplished, influential people should read us. People like you."

What the Hell Were They Thinking?

Obviously, what they meant to say was that the magazine isn't geared toward any one gender, but when less than a quarter of its staff are women, it sure doesn't come across that way.

Getty
The Economist's staff, seen here with their diversity.

This ad came on the heels of two studies the Economist did, finding that women are an increasing demographic in the business world but only represent a tiny percentage of their market share -- and this was their attempt to increase that number. But the obvious issue is that even people who defend the magazine admit that it's "old school" and a "bro's club," and the attitude of "Why should we change when it's you trying to enter our world?" seems to misunderstand what the whole "gender equality" thing is about.

And while the sentiment they were trying to get across might be a positive one, they sure chose the worst possible way to say it, grammatically speaking -- the Economist is only for people, and women aren't people. Even though they sometimes think they are, like particularly adorable puppies.

Getty
"Why would you want to read our magazine and wrinkle up your pretty face with thought lines?"

#1. The Lorax Wants You to Buy an SUV

Mazda

In 2012, Universal made a film adaptation of The Lorax, Dr. Seuss' classic tale about protecting the environment. In a fairly spectacular example of poor decision-making, the film decided to run an advertising tie-in ... for a Mazda SUV.

The ad even mentions that the SUV has the "truffula tree seal of approval." If you haven't seen or read The Lorax, the truffula tree is harvested to extinction because the Lorax compromises his values and makes a deal with an entrepreneur. It's kinda hard to miss, because that's the whole plot of the story.


"I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees! And the SUVs."

What the Hell Were They Thinking?

Given how blatantly crass the whole 45 seconds is, a lot of people were pretty insulted by the whole thing. It's not just because selling more cars is spiritually against everything the story stands for -- they might have been able to get away with it if it were a Prius. But the Mazda CX-5 is not even a particularly eco-friendly car, and Mazda, in their own words, does not plan on "relying on vehicles that are strictly dedicated to meeting environmental needs."

Airhead
"But the word 'Lorax' makes us giggle. So we decided that the partnership made sense."

After the ill-advised ad ran, media outlets pounced on what was obviously a really bad choice of corporate sponsorship -- Stephen Colbert got in on the controversy and explained his problem with the ad in Seussian verse.

Instead of apologizing, Mazda did that infuriating dodge-the-issue thing where they pretended that the criticism was about the auto industry not progressing toward being "green" fast enough, rather than about compromised messages. They even said they're "not out to please everybody," which is the PR-friendly version of "Go fuck yourself." Hell, they should have just gone with that for a slogan in the first place. At least nobody can misinterpret it.



For more ads that were apparently written by cavemen, check out 6 Ad Campaigns That Prove Humanity Is Doomed and 8 TV Ads That Hate Women.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 4 Least Anticipated Christmas Albums of 2012.

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