Big Brand Ad Fails - TribeTalk EP 44

Last Updated July 9, 2020

We’re in the business of running great ads, so when we see bad campaigns floating around we definitely take notice. In this week’s TribeTalk, we break down three cringe-worthy ads that had us scratching our heads. 



Miller Lite 

One of our own discovered this ad while scrolling through Reddit. While it’s clear that he wasn’t the target audience for this ad, it also seems like the makers of this ad weren’t really sure who was the target.

In this ad we’ve got some acronym alphabet soup, a blasé message about gaming, and a dragon...thing, all wrapped up in COVID-19 campaign packaged to sell beer online. Yeah, we don’t get it either.

What we noticed:

  • Lazy copy.
  • A misunderstanding of what gets the target audience excited.
  • They didn’t do enough market research to create quality creative.


The Pepsi ad. Do you know the one we’re talking about? Yes, the infamous 2017 Pepsi commercial featuring a nondescript protest, a famous model, and a Pepsi can. That sounds like the set up for a joke, but we swear it’s not.


This Pepsi commercial featuring Kendall Jenner was almost universally panned. Critics called out the ad for being insensitive and Pepsi ended up pulling it.

What we noticed:

  • The message of this ad was non-existent. It showed a lot while saying very little.
  • The ad is pretty tone deaf, especially on the heels of nationwide protests.

McDonald’s Brazil 

Earlier this year McDonald’s Brazil released a reconceived version of the iconic golden arches as two separated arches to present a message around social distancing. The message, it seems, wasn’t as clear as they intended.

This reinvention of the Golden Arches drew considerable attention from critics. The message was not well-received McDonald’s Brazil ultimately removed all iterations of the socially distant arches from their social media accounts.

What we noticed:

  • The message didn’t match the moment. Though well intentioned, it was perceived as being too jokey.
  • The ad doesn’t indicate how McDonald’s is addressing the issue head on and deflects from the problems at hand.

Do This Instead

Do your research. Don’t just put an ad out there without attempting to understand your audience first.  

There’s a lot going on right now and businesses want to demonstrate that they’re keeping up with the zeitgeist. The three ads above around solid examples of what not to do. That got us thinking about what brands you can authentically do instead.

Show that you are willing to be part of the solution by utilizing a Shopify app like Give & Grow to donate a percentage of sales to a charitable cause. You can even display what you’ve raised on a website widget to build goodwill among your customers and get your conversions up.

We’ve used this solution with our clients and experienced great responses. It’s a total win-win.

Jump on a call with one of our growth experts. We'll talk about your goals and create a strategy to get results. 

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