Biggest Marketing Disasters In History

Biggest Marketing Disasters In History

We often come across articles narrating prosperous marketing campaign narratives. But we often forget that marketing is a double-edged sword. If it has the potential to create success then its incorrect execution can lead to the greatest tragedies as well!

Today we bring for you 3 case studies depicting the “Rise and the fall,” umm well mostly fall 😛 and the damage they incurred because of their miscalculated marketing strategy.


1. Beatles Butcher Cover

The infamous Beatles Butcher cover which showed the Beatles draped in pork and holding dismembered baby dolls made its appearance in June 1966.

After Capitol Records sent out copies of the album to distributors, disc jockeys, and reviewers, the company received raging protests over the obnoxious photo.

Faced with the unexpected outrage, Capitol recalled the cover on the eve of the album’s release. In totality, 750,000 copies were printed up and immediately recalled.


Some people believed that the cover was the Beatles way of expressing their anger against Capitol for dissecting and reconfiguring their carefully crafted albums. The cover was a brutal visual pun letting the world know that “Capitol Butchers the Beatles.”

It is considered their ally in this scheme was photographer Bob Whitaker, who shot an entire series of bizarre photos of the Beatles during the session. His inspiration behind the Butcher photo was the book Die Puppie [translated The Doll] by German artist/photographer Hans Belmer.

Conclusion- We don’t have solid reasons as to why Beatles did what they did! However, the marketing campaign was a complete fail as the intended message never reached the audience.


2. Pizza Hut Mockery

Pizza Hut’s franchise in Israel released an ad mocking at Palestinian hunger strike leader ‘Marwan Barghouti’ following the leak of a video footage by Israel’s Prison Service showing him secretly eating a candy bar and cookies in his prison cell.

Pizza Hut edited a screenshot to add a pizza box into Barghouti’s cell and captioned it: “Barghouti: If you’re going to break the strike, isn’t pizza better?”


The advertisement sparked widespread condemnation, with Palestinians and Palestine supporters taking to social media to call for a global boycott of Pizza Hut and demanding a legal action against them. Others criticized the company for attempting to gain publicity and profit from hunger strike aimed at gaining dignity for Palestinian prisoners. The protesters even went far ahead to redesign the company’s logo in order to make it look like a prison.


Subsequently, in a public apology posted on its international Facebook page, Pizza Hut apologized for the ‘completely inappropriate’ advertisement and said that it “does not reflect the values of our brand”.

Conclusion- Humor is subjective! Yes, we understand the idea to capitalize on things that are popular but not always.


3. Dove

Dove posted a social ad on its Facebook page that showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman underneath after using Dove body lotion.

The controversy it triggered is rather obvious. People found it racist which led to a huge outcry on social media.


After being flanked with criticism, Dove pulled down the ad. It further, tweeted: “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused.”

The apology did not gain acceptance from a lot of people, as the ad was considered too offensive.

Many asked how an ad so racist in nature got approved by the brand’s marketing team in the first place.

Conclusion – Sentiments of the community should be kept in mind while designing your marketing campaign. If you go wrong, it can tarnish your image for a long long period of time!


And what do we gain from these disasters? Apart from amazement, we gain meaningful lessons that will help us in designing our campaigns better! And if you are not satisfied with just “better” and want to go for the “best” then get in touch with us…

Also, let us know some other interesting marketing disasters in the comment section.



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