Marketing Blunders


By Jethro Wegener

The haze problem in Singapore is causing some businesses to use it as a marketing ploy, with companies like Brands creating special health tonics for it, to fashion blogs touting make-up techniques inspired by the haze. This is not the first time companies have used current events to promote products, and occasionally it goes horribly wrong. So let us take a look at the recent blunders by marketers.


In 2013, when the haze was worse than it is now, McDonald’s ran an ad poking fun at the bad air quality with their own version of ‘PSI’ – Peak Sauce Index. Seen by consumers as trivialising the pollution of Singapore’s air, the fast food giant issued an apology shortly after running the ad.

Singapore National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG)

The NCPG made a terrific blunder in 2014 when they ran an ad with a child named Andy who was sad because his dad had just bet all their savings on Germany to win the World Cup. Unfortunately for the NCPG, Germany did actually win the World Cup. It was quickly made fun of by the people on the internet and comedians like Jimmy Fallon, prompting NCPG to quickly change the ad to avoid any further embarrassment. 

Malaysia Airlines

Close on the heels of the tragic loss of two of their flights in 2014, Malaysia Airlines came up with the My Ultimate Bucket List contest which asked contestants what and where they would like to tick off their bucket list and why. The contest was open to consumers in Australia and New Zealand who were up to win an iPad or Economy Class ticket. The airline failed to take into account the term ‘bucket list’ and its connection with death – not surprisingly the contest offended the families of the victims on the lost flights.

DiGiorno Pizza

In this time and age, hashtags are used for everything, although it would be best for one to search for what they are used for prior. After an NFL player was suspended for domestic violence, thousands of brave women shared their stories about why they continued in abusive relationships with #WhyIStayed on Twitter. DiGiorno Pizza posted its own version of the hashtag that said ‘#WhyIStayed You Had Pizza’. They quickly apologised for the error, claiming that they did not realise what the hashtag actually stood for.


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