The hall of shame – the top 7 embarrassing media moves


Media plays a huge role in our lives, from keeping informed with the latest gadgets, trends and products, to helping form our personality slowly throughout the years. It is all about grabbing your attention, creating an impact and standing out from the competition. It dictates why I should buy a Macbook over an HP laptop and today it seems many people buy into the brand that comes across as ‘cool’ but they don’t always look at the real benefits it has.

Some businesses need to gain their customers through media and advertising in different ways. Rather than opting for listing product details and trying to build a cool image and reputation, they go to the other end of the spectrum and think tactfully about location and short punchy messages in order to make it memorable. Little do they know that the phrase “any publicity is good publicity” is not always true and some publicity can convey the wrong message about your brand entirely. This in turn can lead to customers losing faith.

I’ve trawled through the vast depths of the internet to find some of the most embarrassing media mistakes – from grammar and spelling errors to inappropriate ad placements (and sometimes just pure idiocy).


1) This funeral services company clearly needed a boost in clients, so what better way of achieving this than taking into their own hands? Yes, the poster may be impactful and intriguing but let’s hope that no one did “come closer”.


2) Working in PR makes me very aware of the spelling and grammar mistakes. Unfortunately when small businesses decide to take on marketing themselves, this is what can happen. Lesson learnt – always proofread and get another colleague to check it as well!


3) QR codes have popped up everywhere in the past two years, from magazines to TV advertisements. These are places that are easily accessible, but I don’t think a mobile phone can scan the code from that distance. This company clearly thought differently.


4) Did someone forget to tell Lexus that in order to drive a car there must be someone at the wheel? Now the target audience knows that the skid marks and smoke were Photoshopped – which could have a negative impact on brand perception.


5) The contradiction of these two posters is hilarious. Why buy food stamps when you have McDonalds urging you to go on a food shopping spree from its dollar menu?


6) Audi took a risky move by provoking BMW. If I was with the agency that created this masterpiece, of course I would want to be cheeky as this is a prime opportunity to show up your competitor and put them to shame by creating a billboard a lot larger. BMW definitely won the game here – checkmate indeed!


7) Dettol at its finest. Clearly they’ve been watching too much CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and saw that there was a niche market that they’ve been failing to target. I’m sure the Advertising Standards Authority had something to say about this…

As mentioned earlier on “all publicity is good publicity” is not necessarily true, but I bet at the time these examples were pretty memorable and amusing. So all in all, they may have ticked off one objective just not all.

We hope all of these brands have a good PR agency to pick up the slack! Ensuring your client conveys all the right messages is key in any marketing endeavour.
Moral of the story, no matter how you promote your brand, be it via advertising, marketing or PR always ensure you’re portraying the correct message.