3 Major Ad Campaigns That Went Wrong Suman October 6, 2016

3 Major Ad Campaigns That Went Wrong

It’s not news that communication skills are important for any one – be it an individual or an organisation. And the way you or your brand is perceived is also based on your communication. And the way you use words or sentences creates that image that you want others to see about you. But what happens when there are language/communication blunders for everyone to see? This is when the copy writers goof up but it definitely reflects on the brand. I have some such examples today to illustrate how important it is to understand language and be able to use it effectively.

The first one that comes to my mind is a campaign by Indigo where they announced that their fares were at the cheapest ever! And the tag line used in the campaign was, “It’s a new low”. (No! Even “at an all time low” doesn’t work) While taken literally, it probably made perfect sense for their ad agency to come up with something like this. Just that there is a metaphoric meaning to the phrase which quite makes the tag line misleading and projects the brand in a rather bad light.


The Indigo airlines campaign which kinda fell flat for it’s language

Another one that made the rounds was by another reputed brand like Times Jobs! I’d say that the copy writing turned out to be quite literal here. And using a female model – like it’s done for every product including shaving razors! – just hits the wrong meaning harder!


Sometimes even simple words can lead to unintended meaning

Although the language here is so innocently simple that it takes a different turn altogether. I don’t know if this our mindset or it is the words – but if the intended meaning doesn’t come across, it’s a fail. And if the impression one gets is negative, it’s an epic fail for the campaign and the brand.

The third one I am going to talk about has totally lost it! In terms of the copy of the advertisement!


The copy writer has come up with a great piece of creative writing full of invigorating adjectives. This does work for the metaphor used and the actual activity it aims at. But somehow ‘gyration’ of a ‘man possessed’ takes it quite far from it being a sophisticated piece of writing and moves into what is popularly called ‘cheesy’!

If you are a copy writer, a social media professional who handles brand communication or someone who works on your own social communication, these examples are great to understand what not to do. What pitfalls to avoid. But why do these blunders happen? If you ask me, it all boils down to a person’s writing skills. There are a few things that could be done to avoid these expensive mistakes.

1. Don’t translate. One of the most common things people do is translate from the vernacular. And I think this is what happened with the Times Jobs ad. What might seem simple enough in your local language doesn’t quite translate well in English. It is important to think in English to write well in English.

2. Read. Read. Read. This is the fodder that fuels writing. Unless your input is good the output can never be. The more you read, the more you know how a language functions. And since most of our communication is in English, it pays to read quality stuff regularly – everyday – to make it a part of your language system.

3. Understand the nuances. Google words for their exact meaning. Learn to differentiate between synonyms. Look up meanings of phrases – they may have figurative connotations which your readers will pick up on! And the result will be the blunders we just discussed!

4. Write regularly for practice. Especially if writing is a part of your regular work – which it is for most of us. I’m sure Dhoni doesn’t just go out there and score centuries out of fluke. And we know the kind of training Sindhu put in to make it in the big league. Same goes for any skill that needs to be sharpened.

5. Subscribe to resources: Too busy to go online everyday? Options like word of the day by dictionary.com send you words right into your email inbox. You can also subscribe to blogs/site updates on language sites that interest you. Meanings, idioms, usages – there’s a whole lot of useful information out there. Pick what suits you and take it from there. Adding to your knowledge like this will definitely help you in the long run.

Have you come across such blunders in brand communication or have tips on how you go about your writing? Share with the readers in your comments.

Photo credit: The images are taken from various sources online and the credit goes to them.