Fashion and Entertainment PR Fiasco: When Public Perception Goes Wrong

Your Favorite Brands' PR Failures

Today, sales depend on marketing. But you, as a consumer, sometimes see offensive and awful campaigns that seem to have been released by accident. Such marketing has consequences, sometimes ones that help brands become sellable. But you know that they say that bad PR is also good PR. Take a look at some of the worst ads and their unexpected consequences to know if this statement is true.
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We all know Calvin Klein as a liberated brand. They shot 15-year-old Brooke Shields in an ad where she said, "Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing." In 1993, the brand showed promotional photos with a semi-nude Kate Moss, who was hugging also semi-nude Marky Mark. Today, we still observe naked campaigns from Calvin Klein. We're used to it because it's their style. But once they crossed the line.

In the 1990s, they dropped a promo video with models wearing legendary jeans, but the concept was suspiciously similar to porn. The editing was ripped and had a style of home shooting. The models were staying in the frame, looking down at the floor, and being shy. A man's voice is heard from behind the frame, asking them questions like, "Where'd you get those pants? How old are you? What do you do?" The video was claimed to be a trailer for porn with juveniles. The brand was forced to apologize and delete the ad. Today, you can barely find the text about it.
Sexizm in the Animal Kingdom
2018 was the year of the fourth wave of feminism. IKEA decided to play negative marketing by surfing that wave. So they posted a picture of a dog sitting at the table on one of their social media accounts. There was also a description that users didn't like. It was written, "If you accidentally scratched his car or chewed his slippers: make pancakes with jam; put his favorite Goddag table track on the table; greet him with an easy smile; avoid the turns of phrase "dear, we need to talk." It takes ten days to "collect" a series of furious comments under the post. IKEA was accused of sexism and insulting women, and offended users called for a boycott of the store. After that, the company left an answer in the comments that the post was purely humorous. It seems like a PR campaign that has drawn attention. IKEA had it, and eventually the post was deleted.
Coitus with the Burger
The legendary slogan "I'm Loving It!" by McDonald's is known by everyone, and it does reflect the thoughts of the fast food cafe's clients. Once, they wanted to reshape this phrase and adapt it to the thoughts and feelings of adolescents. The concept sounded great, but the performance... The promo photo was created with a boy on the left who was looking at the right, where there was a double cheeseburger. In the middle, they placed a youth slang without checking the meaning. It said, "Double Cheeseburger? I'd hit it. I'm a Dollar Menu guy." The millions of dollars spent on the ad were wasted; the serious men failed to catch the wave of youth, and it seemed like McDonald's understood they needed younger people in the company.
Not for Women
In 2011, Dr. Pepper's management realized where and why they were losing money. The secret was hidden in diet drinks that men perceived only as sodas for women. And so they developed a 10-calorie video ad for Dr. Pepper. The commercial began with a pumped-up man running through the jungle. He is holding a machine gun, and there are shots everywhere. Jumping into a car, he says, "Hey ladies. This movie is not for you." At the end, he wins, and a diet soda appears on the screen that says, "Not for women."

The logic of the promo was screaming that girls love pink, are scared of battles, and never watch action movies. Men are greater and stronger, and they never share anything with the other gender. It was tasteless in every way. They cut off half of the audience and got lucky that the company was not canceled.
White is Pure
The three seconds crashed Dove's stock, undermined their credibility as a company, and ruined their reputation. In 2017, the brand launched a mini GIF ad on a social media platform with millions of users. Almost all of those millions saw the ad for a shower gel that cleanses the skin in more ways than one. In the beginning, a black girl takes off her dark beige t-shirt for a moment, and she turns into a white girl with an off-white t-shirt. Many took the GIF as a veiled "being clean means being white." Dove was threatened with a boycott, which almost boded for the brand's demise, but it ended with the company's image deteriorating and an apology.

Sometimes you have to make mistakes yourself to face the consequences, as in the case of deciding to get back with your ex. The same scenario was played out by the German beauty company Nivea in the same year. Their new slogan appeared to be "White is Purity." The campaign was swiftly labeled as racially insensitive, with critics highlighting its exclusionary implications. The brand was forced to remove the ad and apologize amidst accusations of racism and a tarnished image.
Safety in Danger
LifeLock is today's number-one identity theft protection company. The system tracks identity theft, the use of personal information, and credit rating changes. We bet if you are a businesswoman, you care about things like that, and maybe right now you are thinking that you should Google them to work with. LifeLock is the company that literally learns from its mistakes. Less than 20 years ago, it had a site with unique information on the main page. There was the CEO, his photo, and his social security number. The text said that he was not mad but was sure that LifeLock would keep his personal data under protection. After the launch of the advertising campaign, the CEO's personal data was used by attackers more than 13 times. The flaws in the promotion turned it into a powerful anti-advertising campaign.
Most Racist Commercial in History
There's even a page on Wikipedia devoted to it. Which means that the campaign left a giant footprint, and it's like everything was a PR strategy to get negative buzz. So Mountain Dew released three commercials featuring Felicia the goat, voiced by American rapper Tyler, the Creator. In the first commercial, the goat attacks the waitress when she finds out the drink is out of stock. In the second, the goat becomes a DUI offender. In the third, she's standing in a police lineup. The waitress from the first clip looks at Felicia, who insults the victim, and five African-American men.

The outcome for the company was accusations of threats of sexual assault (because of some phrases addressed to the waitress) and corporate racism using stereotypes about African-Americans. The commercial was released in 2013, and the media and celebrities nearly buried the brand. Tyler gave an interview in which he defended the commercial. Even now, he uses @feliciathegoat as his social media nickname.
By the way, Mountain Dew is owned by Pepsi and Co. And they released another terrible commercial, but because of that iconic commercial four years later, which is ridiculed and berated to this day, it took place during the peak of the BLM protests. The promo video opens with a scene of a protest with people cheering and smiling. A working Kendal sees the crowd and decides to join in. She picks up a can of Pepsi, holds it out to one of the police officers, and everyone cheers. The commercial was removed from the broadcast the very next day. The campaign was criticized for ridiculing serious issues by using BLM imagery and Taking a Stand in Baton Rouge, the image of a woman, Iesha Evans, who approached armed police officers and was arrested.
Slave Earrings
We love our colleagues at Vogue, we read them and are sometimes surprised by them. Shop the Trend is still relevant today, but it has a dark past. In 2011, Italian Vogue updated that popular section as usual and shared hoop earrings. The post was supposed to promote the accessory, but it turned out to be the opposite. Next to a photo of a model with the earrings was the caption "Slave Earrings." Next to a qualifying description, "If the name brings to mind the decorative traditions of the women of color who were brought to the southern Unites States [sic] during the late 18th century, the latest interpretation is pure freedom." Criticism rained down on the magazine. In an attempt to rectify the situation, the title was changed to Ethnic earrings, and the editors admitted the error, saying that the Italian-to-English translation was to blame. People on the Internet were dubious of this explanation, which is probably why Vogue removed the article after a while.
Each Body is Perfect but not Yours
Up until 2018, Victoria's Secret seemed to be on top; everyone loved the annual angel shows and adored the brand. However, even before the biggest wave of body positivity, VS was criticized. A campaign called Perfect Body is one of the reasons for the public's discontent.In 2014, the brand released a promo photo with ten models in recognizable lingerie. Right in the middle was the caption, The Perfect "Body." The idea was to call the lingerie sets a body, similar to a second skin. What the advertisers didn't realize was that it would have a different meaning. All the models in the promo were slim, all with the same body type. The public realized that the ideal body could only be like that and got very angry. On Twitter, posts with the hashtag #iamperfect were trending in defense of the beauty of any body, not just a slim one. More than 32,000 people signed a petition calling on Victoria's Secret to cancel the campaign and apologize. In response, the brand changed its slogan to "A Body for Everybody." Of course, this reputational incident played out four years later, when the brand was forced to discontinue the overly idealized angel show.
Homophobic Bullet
It's hard to find any explanation for the Flora ad other than the company's hatred of homosexuals. A little background: eating margarine reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. This is exactly what Flora, which produces margarine, decided to demonstrate. So, in the spirit of minimalism, the promo photo showed a porcelain heart and a bullet flying towards it. The bullet is captioned, "Uhh, dad, I'm gay." The punchline at the bottom is, "You need a strong heart today."

The creators said that finding out about a child's orientation is like getting shot in the heart. It was a bold and highly homophobic statement, even for that year, 2013. The company responsible for the ad said that they did not endorse the campaign, which was created by an external advertising agency, Lowe and Partners, from South Africa. Considering that this agency had already had a history of missteps with other companies, Stonewall, a gay rights organization in the UK, said it was satisfied with the withdrawal of the campaign and had no complaints afterwards. But the public remembered the campaign, which affected the reputation of the margarine brand. Afterward, they repeatedly reminded the public of their support for equal marriage and minorities.
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