Why Advertising Hurts: Ads Worse and Why They Stink


Advertising can be a great way to draw attention to your business and build your brand. However, they are expensive, so they need to be highly targeted and focused on the challenges your ideal audience faces.

Unfortunately, not all companies are focused on getting the most out of their money. Some companies care more about being memorable or funny, but the ad misses the mark. They don’t end up attracting their ideal audience – in fact, in some cases, people don’t even have a clue what the ad was!

Let’s take a look at some of the worst ads we’ve seen and why they failed, so you know what not to do!

Poutine Donut by Tim Horton

In 2017, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday. Many advertisers have tried to take advantage of the event by offering special items, advertising offers focused on Canada and more.

Tim Horton completely missed the mark. First, they made a poutine donut. Canadians love poutine and donuts, but generally not together. Hence, this “treat” was only offered to US customers in specific locations.

Why was this such a huge failure? First, they failed to recognize the event they were celebrating in order to honor that country. Second, the new product wasn’t even offered to the supposed target audience – Canadians!

The takeaway: Whenever you make an advertisement or a special, make sure it’s attractive to your target audience and available to them.

Hyundai Pipe Job Ad

Having a car with clean emissions is great, but there are better ways to advertise it. MUCH better ways. Hyundai’s ad depicted a man attempting to commit suicide in his garage by breathing in the exhaust, only it doesn’t work because the emissions are water vapor.

For anyone who has struggled with mental health (which is most Canadians), this is incredibly inspiring and not uplifting at all. Clean emissions help the environment and can preserve wildlife – why not highlight it? We all love cute animals.

The bottom line: Don’t underestimate mental health in your ads. Instead, focus on the good things you do so that you connect with your audience.

Victoria’s Secret Perfect Body Announcement

A 2014 ad in the UK did the exact opposite of what Victoria’s Secret hoped for. Instead of attracting people’s interest in feeling good in their products, they triggered a backlash from people who pointed out that a perfect body doesn’t have a single definition.

In the ad, all the women are roughly the same height and weight, and they are all very skinny. Each of them wears a different product from the “Perfect Body” line to show their new products.

Online, everyday women have started posting photos of themselves with the #iamperfect hashtag to combat this narrow view of beauty. This hasn’t helped Victoria’s Secret sales!

This is just one example, but many companies have been caught off guard by racist, sexist or stereotypical ads that are unrealistic. This is a big reason why is advertising bad?.

Bottom line: Make sure your ad connects to how your customers actually live life, not an idealized version of them.

Pepsi’s Puppy Monkey Baby Ad

Most people find cute puppies and babies, along with monkeys. So why not combine all three elements in a Super Bowl commercial and create a Frankenstein-style creature to go with it?

The whole commercial features a creature that is a combination of a pug, a monkey and a baby. Enter the room and offer the men watching the game a Mountain Dew Kickstart. Most of the words in the commercial are “Puppy monkey baby”, repeated over and over.

Suppose the company was looking for uniqueness, perhaps, or a shock factor. But what they got was a very strange commercial with no connection to the advertised product, which was Mountain Dew Kickstart. People who saw the commercial remembered “baby monkey puppy” but not what was advertised.

This is unfortunately common with advertisements. The company focuses too much on being funny, controversial, or even endearing, but the actual product or service gets lost in the process.

The bottom line: Make sure your advertising is closely related to the product or service you offer. You don’t want people to remember advertising and forget your company!

Make sure your advertising is effective

Advertising is expensive, even if you are advertising on social media. You have to spend time and money creating the ad, building the message, and then sharing it everywhere. You don’t want these efforts to be in vain because you’ve made a common advertising mistake.

Make sure you’re advertising to the right audience: the people who will buy the product or service, not people from another country. Don’t trivialize serious problems and don’t even fall into racism, sexism or unrealistic expectations.

Most importantly, make sure your advertisement clearly shows the value of your product or service to your ideal audience. You don’t want to be funny or smart at the expense of selling your real products.

Balancing advertising and digital marketing can be a challenge, especially for a small business owner. We are here to help. Local SEO Search can offer a complete service package where we take care of your SEO and digital presence so you can focus on what you do best – your real business!

Contact us for a free consultation today.





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