2016: A Year To Remember For All The Wrong Reasons


What a year it’s been.

Britain unexpectedly votes to leave the EU, Trump shocks the world by winning the US election, three music icons – David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen – die, the Zika virus threatens lives globally and to round it off, Cuba finally loses its revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro.

But if you think that’s bad, the PR world has had its fair share of epic fails. Here are five of the worst.

  1. Public Sees Red With Match.com

The dating website found itself in a sticky situation after launching the #LoveYourImperfections campaign, using a close-up of a woman with freckles and ginger hair.

Hang on, isn’t that freckle-ist and ging-ist?

Needless to say, the public was outraged and took to social media to criticise the campaign for “alienating” people with such features. Match.com said that the aim was to “focus on the quirks and idiosyncrasies that people wrongly perceive to be imperfections”.

But the damage had been done and the brand was forced to remove all posters relating to the campaign.

  1. H&M, Remember Remember the 11th November

At 11am on 11/11, every year, Britain goes into mass silence for Remembrance Day. H&M definitely didn’t get the memo and offered up a one day only 11% discount off all clothes.

The brand followed with a swift change to a 10% discount, before deleting both posts and more importantly, before the media noticed.

However, the eagle eyes at Brazen did notice and we’ve given it top marks for insensitivity.

  1. Samsung Goes Out With A Bang

You have to feel sorry for Samsung. How do you bounce back from hundreds of reports of self-exploding mobiles? Well, you make sure your washing machines don’t do the same…

After the company was forced to make a global recall of 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 handsets, a flurry of complaints were made about their washing machines spontaneously combusting.

Maybe they should have called the Fire Brigade’s press office for help.

  1. Is It Too Late Now To Say ‘Sorry’?

From eating a toastie mid-performance, to stomping off stage after scolding the audience for screaming, to pulling a moonie on ancient, sacred Mayan ruins in Mexico – Justin Bieber’s spokesperson has a rough ride.

However, when the world tour, ‘Purpose’ kicked off in March, it wasn’t the ‘Sorry’ singer who was to blame for a serious faux pas.

The official tour T-shirt read: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is God’s purose that prevails”.

But we have to forgive Biebs, he didn’t do any of it on “purose”, did he?

  1. Starbucking The Trend

Starbucks has had long-standing success with the Red Cups Christmas campaign. But this year, things didn’t go to plan.

The coffee brand unveiled a giant red and white mural of a festive, snow scene, which took up the entire façade of a Manchester pub in the Northern Quarter.

Residents branded it a “monstrosity” and begged the global coffee giant to get its “corporate hands off” their fiercely independent, bohemian district.

Starbucks’ defence was that the Red Cups were individual works of art, designed by customers from all over the world. But Mancs saw it as an encroachment of big business on an anti-corporate haven.

At the end of the day, everyone knew that the Red Cups had been launched, so the PR objective had been achieved. Result.

As the saying goes, all press is good press, right?

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