What were they thinking?


The worst Advertising campaigns of all time.We don’t all have the budget to splash out millions of dollars on massive advertising campaigns.

Smaller businesses tend to be more creative and shrewd with their modest budgets, and over the years Martin Print has been privileged to work alongside thousands of amazing businesses on cracking promotional campaigns that work and get the message across to the target audience.

Still, life must be easier for those big corporate companies, eh?

With millions of dollars to throw at every problem and a dedicated team of marketing executives racking up huge salaries per second, how could they ever possibly fail?

Wait a minute, it turns out that they do cock things up from time to time.

Here’s a selection of some of the Biggest Clangers in Advertising History which became memorable for all the wrong reasons…


The funniest Ad disasters in business history.Vegemite Pizza

Pizza Hut had the best of intentions when launching their new Vegemite Pizza on Australia Day.

But it’s difficult to understand how Pizza Hut – a multinational company, well-versed in the art of marketing – seemed to completely forget about tiny little details such as copyright infringement.

The ad pretty much stole the ‘diamond’ symbol from the Vegemite trademark, and Vegemite were not happy.

The funniest Ad disasters in business history.Embarrassingly for Pizza Hut, their YouTube account was actually suspended for a while owing to multiple notifications of copyright infringement of third parties.



AFL Multicultural Round

When you have a massive advertising budget to spend, you can afford to hire the really big guns.

The AFL hired top creative media agency Cummins and Partners to work on an advertising campaign promoting the AFL Multicultural Round.
The end result looked pretty good!

Marketing fails – Ad campaigns gone very wrong.


Sadly, it completely rips off this design of NBA star LeBron James created by Tyson Beck.

Marketing fails – Ad campaigns gone very wrong.


Cummins and Partners were forced to apologise for blatant plagiarism.

Maybe they’d all been a bit too keen to get out for an early lunch on that day.



Woolworths : Fresh in our memories:

A compilation of the worst Ads in history.“Fresh in our memories” was a marketing disaster for Woolworths which should really have been foreseen long before the idea went live.

The online campaign was intended to mark respect for ANZAC veterans, and consumers were invited to upload their own photographs of ‘fallen soldiers’ on an image generator.

There are two big problems here;

1)  The campaign ended up getting hijacked by people who were more interested in creating and sharing completely inappropriate Memes on Social Media.

2) The Woolworths logo in the corner left a nasty taste in the mouth and sparked outrage from consumers who felt that the company was exploiting fallen soldiers to promote their wares.


Terrible Ads from corporate companies who should have known better.Stoner Sloths

This ‘anti-weed’ campaign from the New South Wales government made the controversial decision to depict all cannabis users as lazy ‘Stoner Sloths’, although in reality they looked more like Chewbacca’s cuter younger siblings.

The campaign went viral, but for all the wrong reasons.

It was originally claimed that The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre were strongly connected to the campaign, but they were quick to wash their hands of any close involvement.

Even the New South Wales Premier tweeted his utter bewilderment at the concept.

A team of real Sloths would probably have made a much better job of the campaign.



The worst Advertising campaigns of all time.Chase & Sanborn Coffee

Good news!
There’s now a sure and certain way to test the freshness of your coffee in-store before you buy!

Bad news!
We’re going to advertise this in a way that shows a man spanking his wife for not serving him the best cup of coffee he deserves!

This is a vintage ad that would never fly in this day and age, but you do wonder what they were thinking even back then.




The funniest Ad disasters in business history.7-Up

Attention New Mums!

Don’t bother giving milk or formula to your baby!
All the happy and healthy babies prefer to slurp 7-Up straight from the bottle!

Marketing fails – Ad campaigns gone very wrong.

Motrin Painkillers

The painkiller giant rolled out an Ad belittling baby slings as fashion accessories that could possibly cause pain.

Strongly opinionated mums on Twitter faced Motrin head on, forcing them to pull down the ads within just a day of release.


McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger

McDonalds thought they would “hit it” with their Double Cheeseburger campaign.

Their biggest mistake was probably the failure to conduct adequate research before trying to use urban slang.

A compilation of the worst Ads in history.

The ad reads: “Double Cheeseburger? I’d hit It.

Nearly every consumer misunderstood the ad to be an advocacy for sex with the sandwiches.


Terrible Ads from corporate companies who should have known better.Calvin Klein

You have to wonder if Calvin Klein go way beyond the boundaries of taste on purpose just to get a wave of press coverage after their Ads are banned.

Over the years, their campaigns have included references to low-budget porn screen tests, violence against women, and even scenes of dead people.

You know you’ve probably gone too far when your latest Ad campaign provokes an investigation by the FBI.

It’s great to go viral but not like this.

I’m not even going to try to illustrate any examples of the times they’ve gone way too far in their desperate bids for attention.

Here instead is a picture of a cute fluffy kitten.



But what’s the worst Advertising campaign you’ve ever come across?

Share your own thoughts and disastrous Ads below!


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