In the marketing world, standing out isn't just a goal -- it's a religious obligation. But sometimes absent-minded admen turn this rite into advertising blasphemy, earning them a toasty spot in publicity hell. Here are four recent ad blunders that mysteriously made it out to us, the schadenfreude-y public.
#4. Fashion Label Loves Ugandan Warlord
Kate Spade New York recently rolled out a line of tote bags with catchy slogans like "Tequila Is Not My Friend" and "I Don't Care What Is Written About Me So Long as It Isn't True" (so you'll look like a raging alcoholic if you carry both bags at the same time). Anyway, the campaign went comically downhill when Kate Spade tried to remix a classic Big Apple design:
Kate Spade New York
"Oooo, the Kony 2014's are in!"
Wait a minute, does that bag say "I heart Kony"? As in Joseph Kony, the Ugandan warlord famous for child abduction and the star of a problematic viral video campaign last year? Well, it sure looks like it, and for the criminally high price of $228, fashion lovers could declare their love for a heavily armed cult leader who's currently terrorizing central Africa. This gaffe prompted Kate Spade to withdraw the bag and presumably refocus their efforts on a series of bags decorated with turn-of-the-century good luck charms.
#3. Coca-Cola Calls Consumers "Retard" and "Douche"
One of the boons of advertising in a diverse society is being able to boast intercultural sensitivity and run ads in multiple languages simultaneously. Also, this gesture can blow up in your stupid face if you don't consult a dictionary for 30 seconds.
Take Coca-Cola: To promote Coke and vitaminwater in Canada, the soft drink titan randomly paired English and French words underneath bottle caps. They also overlooked the fact that languages sometimes use words that look exactly the same and mean totally different things, leading to strangely hostile messages such as this:
"Well, I just spent two bucks on sugar water, but no need to be nasty."
It's unclear what thirsty consumers thought they won when they discovered jarring statements like "You [French word for late]" or "[French word for shower/English word for vaginal irrigation product]." Perhaps they assumed Coca-Cola was rewarding them with a 10-minute supply of lowered self-esteem.
#2. Pepsi Teams Up With Sex Crimes
In a gambit to win over Hong Kong's consumers, Pepsi teamed up with Japanese company A Bathing Ape to promote the brand's AAPE clothing line, because nothing makes people thirstier than the thought of gorilla-flavored bath water.
Drawing on the power of their collective marketing genius, the companies switched logos and fonts, which resulted in this brilliant ad:
We've fucking had it with advertisements seeped in ape culture.
Somehow, one of the largest soft drink companies on the planet failed to notice that their font choice rendered the letter "A" visually similar to "R," thereby creating the most unfortunate taste sensation since Crystal Pepsi.
#1. Japanese Fridge Company Unveils a Fucked-Up Mascot
For most of the world, the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima has sadly become synonymous with bungled efforts to contain its continually leaking nuclear plant. So it's particularly unfortunate that refrigerator manufacturer Fukushima Industries (which had absolutely doot-squat to do with the nuclear disaster) named their corporate mascot (a smiling, winged egg) the following:
Someone's got to have egg on their face.
Yes, somebody combined the words "Fukushima" and "happy" with a total lack of irony and slapped the name on a flying omelet monster in an attempt to sell fridges. Once the Internet mercilessly heckled this flub, Fukushima Industries promptly exiled the Anglicized version of this sky ovum's name to the land of wind and ghosts.