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Why Advertising is Bad: Worst Ads and Why They Stink

Home » Business advice » Why Advertising is Bad: Worst Ads and Why They Stink
Why Advertising is Bad Worst Ads and Why They Stink
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Advertising can be a great way to bring attention to your business and build your brand. However, they’re expensive, so they need to be highly targeted and focused on the struggles that your ideal audience faces.

Unfortunately, not all companies are focused on getting the most bang for their buck. Some businesses worry more about being memorable or funny, but the ad misses the mark. They don’t end up appealing to their ideal audience — in fact, in some cases, people have no idea what the ad was even for!

Let’s take a look at some of the worst ads we’ve seen and why they failed, so you know what not to do!

Tim Horton’s Poutine Donut

In 2017, Canada celebrated her 150th birthday. Many advertisers tried to capitalize on the event by offering specialty items, advertising Canada-focused deals, and more.

Tim Horton’s completely missed the mark. First, they created a poutine doughnut. Canadians love poutine, and doughnuts, but generally not together. Then, this “delight” was offered only to U.S. customers in specific locations.

Why was this a huge fail? First, they failed to acknowledge the event they were celebrating in a way that honoured that country. Secondly, the new product wasn’t even offered to the supposed target audience — Canadians! 

The takeaway: Anytime you’re doing an advertisement or a special, make sure it’s appealing to your target audience and available to them.

Hyundai’s Pipe Job Advertisement

Having a car with clean emissions is great, but there are better ways to advertise it. MUCH better ways. Hyundai’s ad pictured a man attempting to commit suicide in his garage by breathing in exhaust fumes — only it doesn’t work because the emissions are water vapour.

For anyone who has struggled with mental health (which is the majority of Canadians), this is incredibly triggering and not at all uplifting. Clean emissions help the environment and can preserve wildlife — why not highlight that? We all love cute animals.

The takeaway: Don’t make light of mental health in your advertisements. Instead, focus on the good things you do in ways that connect with your audience.

Victoria’s Secret Perfect Body Ad

A 2014 advertisement in the UK did exactly the opposite of what Victoria’s Secret hoped for. Instead of getting people interested in feeling good in their products, they triggered a backlash of people who pointed out that a perfect body doesn’t have just one definition.

In the ad, all the women are about the same height and weight, and all are very thin. They are each wearing a different product from the “Perfect Body” line to showcase the new products. 

Online, everyday women began posting pictures of themselves with the hashtag #iamperfect to combat this narrow-minded view of beauty. This didn’t help Victoria’s Secret’s sales!

This is just one example, but many companies have been caught short by advertising that was racist, sexist, or promoted unrealistic stereotypes. This is one big reason why advertising is bad.

The takeaway: Make sure your advertising connects to the way your customers actually live life, not an idealized version of them.

Pepsi’s Puppy Monkey Baby Ad

Most people find puppies and babies cute, along with monkeys. So why not mash all three into a Super Bowl commercial, and create a Frankenstein-esque creature to go with it? 

The entire commercial shows a creature that’s a combination of a pug, monkey, and baby. It comes into the room and offers the men watching the game a Mountain Dew Kickstart. Most of the words in the commercial are “Puppy monkey baby,” said over and over.

We guess that the company was going for uniqueness, perhaps, or a shock factor. But what they got was a very weird commercial with no link whatsoever to the advertised product, which was Mountain Dew Kickstart. Folks who saw the commercial remembered “puppy monkey baby” but not what was being advertised.

This is unfortunately common with advertisements. The company focuses too much on being funny, controversial, or even endearing, but the actual product or service is lost in the process.

The takeaway: Make sure that your advertisement is closely linked to the product or service that you offer. You don’t want folks to remember the commercial and forget your company!

Make Sure Your Advertising Is Effective

Advertising is expensive, even if you’re doing social media ads. You have to take the time and money to create the ad, build the message, and then share it everywhere. You don’t want those efforts to be in vain because you made a common advertising mistake.

Make sure that you’re advertising to the right audience — the people who will be buying the product or service, not people from another country. Don’t trivialize serious issues or fall into racism, sexism, or unrealistic expectations, either. 

Most of all, make sure your advertisement clearly shows the value of your product or service to your ideal audience. You don’t want to be funny or clever at the expense of selling your actual products.

Balancing advertising and digital marketing can be a challenge, especially for a small business owner. We’re here to help. Local SEO Search can offer a full-service package where we take care of your SEO and digital presence so you can focus on what you do best — your actual business!

Contact us for a free consultation today.

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