TV advertising is in the midst of rapid change as advertisers re-allocate their budgets to maximize the full spectrum of channels from broadcast to social media. But whether an ad is showcased on prime-time TV or goes viral on YouTube, two constants remain: (1) a well-crafted ad hit can be transformational for a company’s brand, and (2) A highly public miss can skunk up the brand’s image (and sales) even faster.
TV ad blunders are nothing new, but the prevalence of social media and the impact of viral videos ups the ante for companies and their ad agencies. But in their zeal to gain brand recognition through buzz, companies sometimes end up angering or offending the very people they’re trying to convince to try their products.
For example, Guido Barilla, chairman of the Italian pasta brand of the same name, recently discovered that fact the hard way after he said he would never do a TV ad that featured a same-sex family.
Here are five memorable “ads gone bad” that companies — and their ad agencies — probably wish they could take back.