5 Huge Brands That Pissed Off Whole Countries With Marketing

Making money ain't easy. If it were, what would basically all rap songs be about? No, to make money you need a business, and a business is a careful balance of product development, client base, finances, infrastructure, and whether the mere existence of the product insults the entire consumer base so viciously that they show up at your factory with pitchforks. Oh, didn't consider that last one, did you? Well, you should. Why, just look at the time ...

#5. Avon Accidentally Implied That Japanese Women Were Whores


Remember the Avon lady? The iconic door-to-door saleswoman who showed up at your house, politely insisted that you were ugly, then blitzed your homely ass with lotions and perfumes in an attempt to fix it?

Unlike milkman visits, the housewife didn't end up pregnant. Usually.

Well, when Avon first entered the Japanese market in 1969, they took their patented, thinly veiled insults about their customers' appearance and quite accidentally cranked them up to 11. Just the simple act of an Avon lady showing up at the door with her wares basically implied that the woman of the house was a dirty streetwalker. Why? Well, Japanese customers were indeed quite interested in skin care products, but a huge chunk of Avon's products were also perfumes, and to the Japanese consumer, perfume was reserved primarily for hookers.

Much like Western-style panties, strong fragrances weren't a big part of mainstream Japanese culture until the cultural invasion of the West. Because the scents were so exotic and novel, they quickly caught on with prostitutes. After being so closely and immediately associated with ladies of the night, no respectable lady would be caught dead perfuming herself -- at least not like the Westerners did. Western-style perfume immediately became the sole domain of the prostitute. And then Avon came along and tried to sell it to middle-aged suburbanites.

"This scent perfectly masks the stench of sailor sweat and cheap whiskey, which, obviously, is a concern for you ..."

The company hadn't exactly endeared itself to the Japanese people before that, either. By the mere fact that they peddled their goods door to door, Avon was considered rude and low class. The Japanese hated being interrupted in their homes by strangers (unlike ... everybody else on the planet?), so Avon's policy was quickly updated, with each Avon lady only operating on her home turf where everybody knew who she was. Then Avon got the brilliant idea to sell bath additives in Japan. This was it! The answer to all their business woes! Those crazy Japanese are always taking baths -- Don Draper, you have done it again!

Except for the fact that the furo, the Japanese bath, isn't meant for cleaning, but for relaxing, like a one-person pool. And much like a regular pool, you have to clean yourself thoroughly before you enter the hot water, which will be then go on to be shared by the entire family. So bringing a bath additive into a furo would be like tossing Mr. Bubble into a community pool. Sure, it sounds like fun for you, but everybody else is probably going to kick your ass.

#4. Eight Pixels Cost Microsoft Millions in India


In Windows 95, you could set the computer's clock by choosing your time zone from a world map:

A stunning technological marvel, never again to be replicated.

As you can see, it wasn't exactly a comprehensive and accurate survey of the world, but rather a quick-and-dirty 0.8 megapixel image that made Greenland look twice as big as Australia. It didn't give directions or even name countries. It just highlighted time zones so you could choose the one you were in, close the window, and never touch the menu again.

But time zones can offer information other than the current time. For example, they can also piss off millions of people. When you selected "Pakistan Standard Time," the map naturally highlighted Pakistan. However, as part of Pakistan, Windows 95 would also highlight the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir, which were claimed by both Pakistan and India. When India noticed this display, all of the world's oceans sloshed just a little bit from the sudden weight of billions of bricks being shat simultaneously.

Will Ockenden
The biggest ever controversy about Pakistani time zones, other than Zero Dark Thirty.

India responded to eight misplaced pixels on a time zone map by threatening to ban the sale of Windows 95 countrywide. Although India didn't have quite as many computer users as they do today, the mistake still cost Microsoft millions. Microsoft eventually had to give India their own version of Windows 95 and ended up removing the highlighting function from all future versions of Windows.

Thus ends the story of the most controversial eight pixels this side of Custer's dong.

#3. A Makeup Line Is Named After the Murder Capital of Mexico


When you hear the word "Juarez," you surely think of exotic beauty, mysterious maidens, and the scent of night-blooming flowers wafting on the ocean breeze, right? No? You think of the Mexican border city Ciudad Juarez, the Juarez drug cartel, and the many, many, many brutal murders that took place there? Weird. Because MAC Cosmetics pretty much just gets that night-blooming flower jazz.

That's probably why they named one of their products, a pink frost nail polish, after a place most famous for squalor and death.

Or maybe they just had a thing for squalid dead ladies.

And this was not a matter of recent crimes ruining the city's good image: Between 1993 and 2011, hundreds of women were brutally murdered in the city of Juarez. Some put the actual death toll at well over 1,000 victims and chalk them up to everything from roving packs of serial killers to the aforementioned drug cartels. Regardless, the point is that very little was/is being done about it. Apparently, women being routinely abducted, raped, mutilated, killed, and dumped in the wilderness is so common in Juarez that the city just kind of learned to live with it. You know, like how you get used to that strange smell your home town has. It's just like that, but with vicious, indescribable murders instead of a paper mill.

It doesn't stop with the Juarez nail polish, of course. When taken together, all of the other products in the line paint a seriously unfortunate picture. The blush was called "Quinceanera" (most of the Juarez victims were very young women), the lipstick was called "Ghost Town," and the nail polish was christened "Factory." Perhaps that last one was supposed to suggest something cool and industrial, but most Juarez "factories" are actually depressing sweatshops where many of the murdered women worked.

No murdered women made MAC cosmetics, though. Those are made in Canadian sweatshops.

After a massive backlash, MAC apologized and offered to donate $100,000 to a Juarez charity, then up and yanked the entire line, leaving all the goth girls who wanted to wear murder-inspired makeup stuck with John Wayne Gacy's Krazy Killer Klown Paint.

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