Global Marketing Fails in 2020

Marketing one’s product or service might seem like a piece of cake, but it actually requires a lot of research and trial runs to end up being considered as a successful campaign through the reaction of the brand’s audience. And honestly, at this day and age, Marketing Matters Most! Thus, if your brand is not trusted by your target audience, even the best of your products won’t make it big in the market. And the only way you can make your audience trust you is through good marketing.

But since the previous year many things have changed in the sociopolitical realm. Many brands have tackled these changes effectively, while many failed, even if their campaigns were well-meaning.

Read about some of the worst global marketing fails of 2020 and where the brands went wrong:

1. Unilever’s Fair & Lovely’s journey to Glow & Lovely

Fair & Lovely has always been a big deal in Asia, especially South Asia. But since people started pointing out how racist the concept of the beauty cream was, a lot of people stopped consuming it. Fair & Lovely then attempted to rebrand itself by turning into Glow & Lovely, but does that really change the idea behind the cream? Did the brand just entirely forget to acknowledge the fact that it’s still a fairness cream and is still pushing the same brand under the guise of a supposed new and improved name?

Quite a bad attempt at rebranding, don’t you think?

2. Giant Foods completely forgetting about the global pandemic

Giant Foods - Global Marketing Fails

Giant Foods is a US supermarket chain. The brand ran a full-page ad for finger foods, which read “Hosting? Plan a Super Spread.” At a time when authorities, healthcare workers and other frontline workers were begging people to stay home and avoid public gatherings, Giant Foods really went ahead and encouraged people to host gatherings and share food.

A great lesson for anyone out there: scrap your old scheduled campaigns and get with the changing times!

3. L’Oréal Paris jumping on the bandwagon

L’Oréal Paris

Black Lives Matter, the reaction of US citizens to the country’s widespread and prevalent systematic racism, was a huge part of 2020. Many brands spoke up to show their support and stand in solidarity with the black community. But wouldn’t it be weird if a brand showed support if their values don’t align with said solidarity? That’s what happened with L’Oréal Paris. The brand’s statement regarding BLM faced a lot of backlash and claimed to be inauthentic as it has a history of racist viewpoints, such as ending a contract with the brand’s first transgender ambassador after she spoke up about white supremacy. Odd, isn’t it?

Now we know that brands should acknowledge what they’ve previously done wrong and correct themselves before trying to stay relevant with statements which don’t align with their beliefs.

4. Dominos and Karens

Dominos and Karens - Global Marketing Fails

Here’s an example of how the way you’re marketing can be perceived in different ways depending on locations. Dominos ran an ad in both Australia and New Zealand, “Calling All (Nice) Karen’s”, saying that the times are tough if you’re a Karen, so if you’re kind Karen and if you’re wearing a mask, Dominos wanted to give you a free pizza.

The ad ran smoothly in Australia, and the Australian people took it lightheartedly, taking no offense to it.

But in New Zealand, the ad saw quite a lot of backlash because the name Karen is associated mostly with rich white women who never acknowledged their privilege. Thus, the people of New Zealand criticized this campaign and didn’t deal well with the fact that instead of focusing on the actual underprivileged, Dominos wanted to give more free stuff to already privileged people.

This shows the importance of how research is important in marketing, and that even if your ad is supposed to be well-meaning and light-hearted, it can still be found to be insensitive and can cross lines.

What do you think about these global marketing failures? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Zahra Rehman

Social science undergrad and amateur artist who has a soft spot for cats, dogs and philosophy.

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