Badverts, 2017

As the year creeps over into its final month, we’ve been inundated with heartwarming Christmas adverts, some of us have completed their Christmas shopping (keen), whereas some of us have just started writing the shopping list. For further procrastination from having to deal with the heaving crowds in the city centre, there appears no time like the present to reflect on the year we’ve had.

Okay then, so what about the ads that haven’t quite gone to plan in 2017? Those that boggle the mind as to how they got the go ahead? The marketing fails of 2017?


First of all, a personal highlight: we need to mention the Gregg’s Christmas stunt. The nation’s favourite bakery released an Advent calendar, with the front image portraying a Sausage Roll in a Manger. Now I don’t tend to associate with people who don’t like Greggs; most people I know would probably have taken a brisk walk to the nearest shop to pick up a pasty – and the calendar- after seeing this. Unfortunately, there were some who didn’t see the funny side.

Marketing Fails. Greggs.After all, there is a lot at steak (bake) with risky moves like this. Maybe they would have taken better to a ‘Cheesus and Onion pasty’?

I have to admit I laughed out loud at the headline from the Newcastle Chronicle: “Howay, in a manger?”.

Alas, Christmas is a religious occasion after all, and no matter how much we love pasties, maybe we should leave the religious side of things to the professionals. It can be difficult using religion in marketing at the best of times, let’s hope the majority of us saw the light-hearted side!


Dove Advert. Badvert. Fox Socks. Manchester Marketing Agency. Marketing Fails.

On a more serious note, we need to address Dove. They have worked so hard over the years to promote positivity and confidence amongst women with their personal care products and their brand in general. This year’s advert for its body wash showed a black model with a t-shirt matching her skin tone, removing her t-shirt to reveal a light skinned model with a lighter t-shirt. Facebook went wild at the sight of the still, as you can see here, accusing Dove of being completely and utterly racist. Which when looking at the image, does look uncomfortably like the truth. With all of the talk about this on social media, it is quite surprising to see that the ASA only received one official complaint about the advert! It will be interesting to see how, if at all, Dove try to redeem themselves going into 2018, since they kept pretty quiet after this all blew up!        


Did you see the KFC advert? The one where there’s a sassy chicken posing for the camera, striding through some kind of abandoned building? The caption at the end reads “The Chicken. The Whole Chicken. And Nothing but The Chicken”. Personally, I’m not a fan of KFC but I do love me some chicken. Apparently, the thought of eating the “whole chicken” was distressing to some viewers– is every single part of the chicken used by KFC?  Was the ad misleading, featuring older looking chickens, misrepresented in age and living conditions? There were also issues with the song choice – see what you think below. There were over 450 complaints to the ASA about this, but they didn’t face investigation. Some complainants were spitting feathers, claiming seeing the chicken humanised the food they were going to eat. Erm, news flash: the chicken you eat comes from – yep -chickens. Unless you’re veggie or vegan, there surely can be no way one can be that offended by a sassy chicken.


Now, let’s talk about Pepsi. We see the Kardashian clan (or should it be klan in keeping with their brand?) plastered all over our TV, Insta feeds, Magazines, everything. It may have been a bit dinting on Kendall Jenner’s image after the Pepsi ordeal; she is reported to have felt like her career was over, after the backlash associated with the advert. The ad depicted a demonstration mirroring a Black Lives Matter protest, where Kendall walks away from a photo-shoot up to a police officer at the protest, as you do. She passes him a can of Pepsi, and then suddenly everything seems okay. Pepsi were trying to create a sense of unity in times of hardship, I imagine, but it looks like they didn’t quite succeed. They admitted they “missed the mark” – interestingly the exact same phrase Greggs used when they apologised. Perhaps Pepsi should have tested the reactions of the ad before it went fully out there for all to see, especially since they were mimicking a real-life event. It’s more on Pepsi’s head than Kendall’s, though, bless her. It must be difficult trying to keep up with the rest of the Kardashians (sorry) when something like this hits back at you.

Money Supermarket

Marketing Fails. Money SuperMarket.

MoneySupermarket ads have always received backlash, complaints that they were offensive, overtly sexual and borderline homophobic. This year, the price comparison site turned to the help of He-Man and Skeletor, one a comic book character and the other a cartoon character. Whilst Dave is still the original Sass King, and sorely missed, the two macho characters dancing to The Time Of My Life does still make me smile, and perhaps may be less offensive to the public, considering they’re fictional and perhaps not as disturbing as a guy working some denim shorts in massive heels. It is good to see that MoneySupermarket have taken on criticism from their audience and altered their ad (at least for now)!

This is just a selection of the big ones from me, so I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the ASA’s release of the most complained about adverts, so we can see what really grinds our audiences’ gears.


Laura is a content marketing intern at Fox Socks Limited. She enjoys going to gigs and cooing at cats (even though she's allergic). When Laura isn't talking campaigns with the FS team, she spends her time studying for her masters in Marketing (Communications), writing her own hilarious blog, and tweeting about the Gallaghers @loz_wald