25 Publicity Stunts Gone Horribly Wrong

Publicity stunts typically have a bad reputation. They’re the type of things that guerrilla marketers do. They’re not done by respectable institutions. Or are they? After today’s list, you may have your doubts. Not only were these publicity stunts done by large corporations, but they also failed miserably.

How miserably? Well, miserably enough that the companies here paid a lot of money to public relations teams so that they would clean up the mess. So how bad can they be? Pretty bad. The thing about big companies is that it is hard to keep tabs on what everyone is doing.

Even if somebody somewhere along the managerial chain of command had the presence of mind to know that whatever marketing stunt was in the works would not be a good idea, it’s borderline impossible to keep track of everything and make sure that it all rolls out smoothly.

Inevitably, you’re probably going to step on a lot of toes, especially because publicity stunts by their very nature don’t really lend themselves well to oversight.

Depending on your point of view though (bystander, victim, company), even bad publicity is still publicity. These are 25 Publicity Stunts Gone Horribly Wrong.

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Featured Image: pixabay



PitbullImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

He held a contest where he would perform for whatever Walmart got the most votes. After 4chan got in on the contest, a Walmart in Alaska won. Pitbull went and performed anyway.



McDonaldsImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

During the 1984 Olympics, McDonald’s offered free food whenever the US won a medal. Unfortunately for McDonald’s, the only other country to really stand much of a chance (USSR) boycotted the Olympics that year. Needless to say, they gave away a lot of free food.


Michael Dukakis

Michael DukakisImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Already seen as a softy during a time in which the US was facing down the USSR, Dukakis’s bid for the presidency was shattered when he posed for a photoshoot in a tank that served to make him look like an even more inept commander in chief than his opposition had already painted him as. Some say that the backfiring of this photo almost singlehandedly cost him the election against Bush.


Justin Bieber

Justin BieberImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

After 4chan got wind of an online poll to determine where Justin should go for his “My World” tours, North Korea came out as the undisputed champion.


United Airlines

United AirlinesImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

In the 1960’s, United Airlines had a promotion called “Take Me Along” where businessmen were encouraged to take their wives on their trips. After the trip, a company representative would call to follow up but quite often the response they got was “What trip?” Apparently, United Airlines ended up exposing quite a few extra-marital affairs.

SEE ALSO: 25 Biggest Corporate Scandals Ever »

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