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It’s crazy to think that some marketing executives actually approved these insane advertising stunts. Well ladies and gentlemen, co-founders and founding- team, behold, some of the greatest, insane and biggest marketing fails in history.

We all know how crucial marketing is for any type of business and I completely understand that some of these stunts were an innocent attempt to go viral. And yeah they did go viral, just that it didn’t come out as they expected. “I saw that entirely different on my mind” moments are surprisingly a lot in the enterprise world and please subscribe to our newsletter to get access to our startup forensics series where we talk about hot topics about companies and startups.

Simply put it this way – the series goes under the hood on how startups and corporations are run in the business world.

100 Pizzas Per Year For Life

In exchange for a tattoo.

This marketing campaign by Domino backfired when over 400 people got their logo tattoos. Russia’s Dominos promised its fans to get 100 free Pizzas per Year for the next 100 years if they got a tattoo of the Company’s logo on their bodies.

marketing fails dominos
source: domino’s facebook

The Marketing team thought they nailed it and maybe they expected a few crazy individuals or die-hard fans to pull off the tattoo stunt. This got an unexpected U-turn as it turns out people didn’t care about their bodies when there is free Pizza!! – For a century… Dammn I mean I can’t turn that down it’s “za” (short for pizza) and am sure Michelangelo would agree.

So Due to an unexpected and high number of people getting tattoos, Domino’s “pizzatoo” campaign become the worst marketing stunt of the year and it only ran for 4 days. Yeah, just 4 days were enough to get the tattoo business into profit and also to bring the ninja turtles to Russia.

Domino’s didn’t expect 400 people that’s for sure and if you do that numbers that amount to 4 million free Pizzas!!!

Don’t underestimate the power of free food.

Domino’s rules were very clear

  • Get a real Domino’s logo tattoo on a visible spot of your body (you can do the tattoo as you like)
  • Post the photo-result in a social network (Instagram, Facebook, or VKontakte) with the hashtag #dominosforever
  • Get the life-time certificate and enjoy Domino’s Pizza (* Domino’s will check the tattoos’ authenticity.)

A lifetime certificate😮 that was the power line for me. Think about it free pizza till you die, heck some would request to be buried with the extra.

This campaign started on Friday, October 31, 2018, and it was scheduled to last for 2 Months but it was shut down shortly after 4 days as things went out of hand.

They updated the rules and limited the campaign to the first 350 people. But that didn’t stop people from getting tattoos. People kept sharing the new swag on social media.

They did some efforts to stop the campaign but, you know I guess people no longer cared about the pizza, they wanted the swag tattoos. Why? I don’t know maybe the logo looked great.

The marketing campaign can be considered a failure but, Honestly, I don’t think so, I think it was a win-win situation. When the Russian economy later crashed, that campaign meant securing food for your family for the rest of your life.

Talk about a lifetime deal.

Apple Rock the stage with a ghost band

In 2014, Apple and U2 teamed up for what Apple CEO Tim Cook called, “The largest album release of all time” or rather the worst marketing campaign of that time.

marketing fails u2

Given that title – Apple decide to release the album to over 500 million users with an iTunes account without consent. It was for free but one asked for it, as a result, this marketing campaign backfired and led rise to a trending hashtag on Twitter which was #DELETEU2

Apple thought they had this marketing game under control, I mean given Steve Jobs’ marketing reputation, they thought they could rewrite history with U2, and yeah they did and people didn’t like it all.

Apple added U2’s album to millions of iTunes users as a goodwill gesture and people didn’t see it that way, they didn’t give consent, and that ultimately backfired as a result both U2 and Apple ended up in a massive PR failure.

I guess sometimes celebrities and marketing campaigns don’t work well together.

Which brings us to Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner Influencer marketing gone wrong.

Influencer Marketing Gone Wrong

A pretty face isn’t always the solution. Here’s how Pepsi blew up its marketing campaign.

Pepsi partnered with Kendall Jenner to release an Ad that was peaceful and everyone in it was happy, but really everyone was pissed.

The Ad started with a peaceful protest from a young generation crowd and everyone seemed happy. Kendall Jenner was around the corner finishing her photoshoot. She then removed her makeup, picked up a Pepsi can, and joined the peaceful protest. She then took the can to give to some police officer and returned to the crowd like nothing happen.

This drove people mad

Why though?

Well, it was during the black lives matter scandal, the US had political and racial issues and Pepsi kinda wanted to ride along the trending wave.

Yeah, they were trending alright. After a few hours of releasing the Ad, Pepsi was facing a storm of backlash and criticism from everyone as people went mad.

Even the daughter of Martin Luther King, Bernice king criticized the ad in one of her tweets.

marketing fails bernice king

Pepsi pulled the ad from Air and Youtube within 24 hours and apologized saying they missed the mark.

Burger King almost went Burger Queen

Burger King’s UK division posted a Twitter thread on International Women’s Day in 2021 that began with the message: “Women belong in the kitchen” and included the following three tweets: “If they want to, of course,” “Women belong in the kitchen,” and “We’re launching a scholarship program to help women pursue degrees in culinary arts and close the gender gap in the restaurant industry.”

marketing fails burger king
source: wordstream

This tweet made the feminists mad and Burger King received a storm, a tornado of backlash rather. The ladies didn’t like the tweet and accused Burger King of using sexist tweets as Clickbait for their little tweet.

Although the first tweet was meant to get people’s attention and the next two were progressive, a lot of Twitter users only read the first one, which led to a wave of criticism for the apparent sexism in the remark. Additionally, people who read all three tweets still perceived it as a tacit disrespect for Women’s Day.

biggest marketing fails

How did Dove’s marketing director approve of that

A three-second video showing three ladies of various ethnicities revealing one another by taking off their shirts was released on Facebook by Dove in 2017. The body wash’s message that it is for every woman was intended to promote variety.

biggest marketing failures dove

After applying the body wash, it was seen as a black woman turning into a white woman, suggesting that the black woman was less clean than the white woman. Following criticism that the advertisement was offensive and racist, many customers decided to boycott all Dove goods.

Yeah, people went nuts upon seeing that ad, they received criticism from all races and that ladies and gentlemen, is one of the biggest marketing failures of all time.

After realizing this mistake – Dove quickly removed the Tweet and apologized. How did the marketing team pull that off, I should have been a red flag from the very start.


Why do some Marketing Campaigns Fail

Not Being Creative. Lack of originality is one of the most frequent causes of marketing initiatives failing. Your campaign won’t likely attract attention or produce results if it is uninteresting and uninspired. You must be innovative and think outside the box in order to design a campaign that is genuinely effective.

How do you recover from a failed Marketing Campaign

Take ownership of the mistake and provide a formal apology. This can help you improve the way people perceive your business and keep future marketing initiatives from being negatively impacted.


The key takeaway here is to make sure you don’t offend a certain ethnic group or race. Just do the marketing a safe route and avoid jumping into trending controversies that have two sides.

It’s not a bad idea to think of a crazy marketing stunt, just don’t use International Women’s Day to bait the ladies.

It’s a suicide mission and don’t make your company the suicide squad.

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