As we start a new year, we thought we’d take a look back on some of the worst marketing mistakes from 2017. From national and international campaigns, take a look at the most unforgettable marketing moments of 2017 from these 5 major brands…


Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaigns have ran for over a decade with the aim of “making beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety”. Their advertisements always intend to make a statement yet last year, two of their marketing campaigns stirred up quite a lot of controversy worldwide.

The limited edition body wash bottles shown below were released in May with the aim of spreading the message that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. The bottles were therefore intended to represent different women’s body shapes. A simple idea to start with, however many customers either felt Dove were comparing their bodies to a large shapeless bottle of soap or simply found the whole campaign humorous.

Credit: CBS News

The bottles weren’t the only thing that offended Dove customers in 2017. October saw the release of a Facebook advert promoting the Dove Body Lotion. The advert showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman. Needless to say, the advert received much negative attention, with the brand being accused of racism. Dove issued an apology and took the advert down within the same day.

Credit: The Guardian


In May, Mcdonald’s received significant back lash after their TV & cinema advert aired. The advert featured a young boy asking his mum about his dad who had passed away. In the advert, viewers saw both the mum and son going into Mcdonalds, with the son asking questions about his dad. The son also ordered his Mcdonald’s meal and his mum added ‘that’s what your dad used to order’. Complaints surfaced immediately after the advert aired with viewers claiming that Mcdonalds were manipulating children who had lost their parents and that the advert was cynical, inappropriate and shameless.

One week after the advert aired, Mcdonald’s issued an apology and the advert was axed from TV & cinemas.

Credit: BBC News


Another skincare brand that received it’s fair share of backlash in 2017 was Nivea.

The brand experienced it’s first spot of controversy of the year in April when they released a Facebook advert to promote their new ‘Invisible’ advert. The advert featured the words ‘White is Purity’ and was geographically  targeted at the company’s Middle Eastern followers, which led to the brand being accused of ethnic discrimination.   Nivea accepted that the advert was misleading and have since deleted it from their social media accounts.

Credit: BBC News

Another advert that didn’t pay off for Nivea in 2017 was their Natural Fairness Cream video ad. In the advert, viewers can see the cream being applied to a black model’s skin which becomes much lighter along with the words ‘visibly lightens’ which appears on the screen.  The advert was also released just weeks after Dove’s Facebook ad, which was also accused of being racist.

Credit: BBC News


It’s hard to forget the news that made headlines all over the world in January 2017 – Donald Trump introducing the immigration ban in America. One company that got caught up in the whirlwind of this was Uber. The news of the ban triggered taxi drivers in New York to go on strike and come together in protest. All taxi drivers were invited to join, including huge companies Uber and Lyft. Instead of joining in the protest, Uber scraped their surge fees and promoted this on social media. This didn’t sit well with customers who believed that Uber were undermining the strike. News of this led to #DeleteUber becoming a top trend on social media with around 200,000 customers removing the Uber app from their phones.

On the other hand Lyft, Uber’s main rival, sent out a message of unity and donated $1M to the ACLU (Americal Civil Liberties Union). Lyft also saw a huge increase in customers and beat Uber in the number of downloads from the app store in January.

Credit: Cavs Connect


Arguably the most talked about advert of 2017 (and not for the right reasons), was Pepsi’s global advert released in April. Pepsi are notorious for including famous faces within their promotions, with a host of celebrities in their archives including Beyonce, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. This year it was Kendall Jenner’s turn.

Credit: Billboard

The advert saw Jenner joining a protest which came to a stand still when confronted by a line of police officers. Jenner smiles and hands one of the police officers a can of Pepsi which appears to diffuse the situation. Viewers were shocked as they found the scene inappropriately mirrored the iconic picture of Ieshia Evans, who came face to face with armed police officers during the Black Lives Matter protest in 2016. The protest was carried out after 37 year old Alton Sterling was shot by police officers in Louisiana. Viewers felt that Pepsi were trying to make light of an extremely serious situation.

Credit: BBC News

Pepsi took immediate action by issuing an apology to both the viewers and Kendall Jenner and the advert was subsequently withdrawn from all channels.

Credit: @pepsi – Twitter


It’s clear that 2017 played host to some brand damaging adverts. What do you think of these campaigns? Let us know in the comments below!

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