Though it is said that “failure is the step towards success” or “failure is the biggest teacher”. But some failures have such a  significant impact on one’s life, business, career that it ruins them. This article will give you insight into one of the top 20 biggest market failure of all time in the world!

Mc Donald’s: UK TV Spot

We all know the leading fast food chain Mc Donald’s. In 2017, Mc Donald‘s started a marketing ad, where Mc Donald’s showed a mother and son talking about son’s dead father.

Though the marketing ad was depicting love for fillet-o-fish sandwiches, people put a lot of hate on the marketing ad.

People marked it as “exploiting grief for sandwiches”.

Burger King: Smartphone Campaign

Another fast food giant Burger King, popular for its hamburger, had also failed in its marketing ad. The idea of marketing was that Burger King started a campaign in which a list of burger ingredients was read by the smart devices from wikipedia. But the campaign didn’t work well as the hackers changed the ingredients of the burger posted on Wikipedia and added “Cyanide” as one of its ingredients. As a result Burger King had closed the campaign which was a great idea of Marketing.

KFC: Oprah Winfrey Free Chicken Giveaway

KFC is an American fast food chain involved in the business of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Oprah was a popular and famous show at that time. To grab the customer’s attention and take advantage of KFC, started a campaign where the viewers of Oprah show will be given free meals. The coupon was available and can be downloaded from the Oprah website. Gradually, around 10+ million people applied for the free meal through the coupon and as a result KFC had to take back the offer.

Starbucks: Blonde Espresso

Coffee lovers know this brand and its product pretty well. A brand well famous for its coffee range. In 2018 Starbucks launched a new Blonde Espresso 


Who does not know that top and famous cosmetics brand Nivea. To increase its reach and start an ad campaign Nivea in 2017, launched an ad where they featured a woman with her back facing. The woman was wearing a white coloured dress and had black open hair. Nivea aims at just advertising its product but the campaign turns out to be the opposite as the people marked it as racist nature.

Dove: Racist Facebook Ad

Another beauty products brand Dove had also faced a failure in its marketing strategy. Dove launched an advertisement in
, where a girl was removing her t-shirt over three panels. The image was a four frame image. As the first two images show a dull girl and when the girl opens her t-shirt a white tone girl appears. The ad was criticised as it was a racist act. DOve apologised for the ad and removed it.

Bootea Shake: Copy and paste Caption

Shake company, a legal technology company, started advertising. They hired one of the Instagram influencers to promote their brand on instagram. The influencer did the promotion but he copy pasted the caption along with the instructions from the company.

Adidas: Boston Marathon Email

Adidas sent an email to all the participants of the Boston Marathon in 2017. The subject line of the mail was “Congrats, you have survived the Boston Marathon”. Actually in the 2013 Boston Marathon a bombing took place which harmed many people. Many people were offended by this subject line and Adidas had immediately apologised for the mail.

Sony: “Racist” Print Ad

Sony started an ad campaign in which Sony promotes its white Playstation Portable device in 2006. The ad shows a pale woman with white hair who was seen grabbing a black woman. The white figure was seen upset. The heading was saying “Playstation Portable white is coming”. This ad was criticised saying that the ad is a racist act.

Ford: Print Misfire

Ford, one of the top car manufacturing brands, started an advertising campaign. In 2017, Ford started a campaign under which Ford featured a woman trio who were gagged and bound in their new Ford’s hatchback car. The ad was criticised by the people as it was offensive and highlights violence against women. 

Audi: Chinese wedding Commercial

One of the top luxury car manufacturing brands, Audi, featured an ad. The ad involves a groom’s mother who walks up to the altar and checks her going to be daughter inlaw. She checked her before approving his son for the wedding. The ad was showing the tagline “ Important decisions must be made carefully”. The ad was criticised that the brand had compared women with cars and also it was objectifying women.

Walkers: Selfie Competition

A UK based snack company, Walker, started a social media campaign where the company asks customers to share and submit their selfie in order to win a ticket to sporting events. As a result the customers had shared the pictures of crimes, hate and killers. The company failed to examine the pictures and ended the campaign.

Facebook: VR Puerto Rico Tour

The founder of the facebook Mark has used the VR app of the company (known as Meta today) to have a tour through NPR produced 360 video of Puerto Rico. Mark tried to demonstrate how much aid facebook was providing to  Rico but the ad was hated as it depicts exploiting disaster to advertise and showoff.

Snapchat: Would you rather Ad

The social media and chatting app Snapchat . It introduced an advertisement asking the users a question “Would you rather?”. The company has asked users questions like Would you slap ….. And ….? With blanks filled with the names of some famous personalities and celebrities. The ad seems to be defamatory and useless. The company apologies for the ad and removed the game ad.

AirBnb: Floating world mail

The company had shared a mail to all its subscribers in 2017, which highlighted the theme of “Floating homes, water theme houses sitting on the water surface.” The mail was stating “Stay over water and live the life aquatic with these floating homes”. The ad was criticised as it was harmful.

Ink Coffee: Gentrification Sign

Ink Coffee, a coffee shop in Denver, placed a sign board in front of its shop. The sign board read as “Happily Gentrifying the neighbourhood since 2014”. The company apologies saying that they were not aware of gentrification issues.

Bud Light Beer: Removing NO from your vocabulary

The beer bottle was packed with the tagline “The perfect  beer for removing NO  from your vocabulary for the night # up for whatever”.

The ad was criticized as people named it as it was promoting rape and neglecting the power of consent from one.

Blackberry: Tweet from Iphone

The smartphone brand Blackberry launched a new smartphone in 2015. 

The tweet was shared by the company promoting the new smartphone but the issue was that the photo posted on twitter was taken from Iphone. The company removed the picture when noticed by the people but it was trolled and shared till then.

Kurl On : Malala Poster Ad

Kurl On a mattress brand in India, released a print ad which showed a caricature of Malala Yousafzai. The picture depicts the different stages of her recovery. The ad was shown in three series where two series showed Mahatma Gandhi and Steve Jobs. It was later criticised that 

The company used a sensitive incident for an ad.

Pepsi: Kendel Jenner Protest

Pepsi, one of the top soft drink brands, released an advertisement in 2017. The ad featured Kendel Jenner, in which she was seen selleting the protest of black people by handing over a can of Pepsi to a police Officer.Though the ad aims at showing Pepsi was unifying the people but the audience took it other way and a lot of outrage was there for the ad, The company took back the ad. 


Though advertising and marketing campaigns aim at promoting the brand, its products or service, sometimes associating it with some social issues, events or some personalities may be dangerous and harmful for the company. These articles let us know what marketers and advertising agencies must keep in mind and take care of while launching any marketing ad.