With social media gaining the prominence that it has, brands and celebrities are smartly using it to get people’s attention towards their cause/product/event, etc. Uh, well, not that smartly every time. Huge blunders have been made during campaigns and promotions in the past and here we list some of them.

1. Harsha Bhogle’s Instagram live stunt fail

When cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle mysteriously ‘disappeared’ from an Instagram live for a promotion stunt, leaving his followers anxious about his well-being. Things got out of very soon and Harsha apologised for his mistake later.

2. The infamous Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner

In this advertisement, Kendall is shown to join a group of protesters as she reaches out to a policeman and hands them a can of Pepsi. People criticised the ad for being insensitive towards actual protesters and the causes they stand up for. The ad was taken down from every place within 2 days.

NY Times

3. Gal Gadot’s star-studded Imagine cover

At the beginning of coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Gal Gadot roped in several big names to make a cover of John Lennon’s Imagine. Though her intentions were in the right place, people criticised her for not being in tune with the ground reality which was so grim, releasing a song seemed inappropriate. The actor admitted that she misstepped a few days later.

The Guardian

4. Influencer Santoshi Shetty’s ‘therapy’ sessions

In an incident that again happened at the start of the pandemic, influencer Santoshi Shetty offered one-on-one interaction with those struggling mentally/emotionally for a fee of ₹1500. She was rightfully slammed because this set-up obviously seemed similar to therapy and she was not qualified for it. What would she have done when people would have told her about their problems? Was she in a position to offer medical help? No.

Santoshi apologised after the backlash and took down the clip.


5. Marketing strategy of the movie Pihu

Pihu was the story of a kid who gets trapped in her own house as her mother falls unconscious. The girl is too young to tell dangerous from safe and starts doing things like climbing the balcony railing etc. Pretty scary! Now, the marketing team of the movie thought it’d be a good idea to call people and run a pre-recorded voiceover by a kid who sounds like they are in danger. After this, the call ended and the user was redirected to a link to help the child. The link led to the movie’ trailer.

There was no way this was going to be received well. What were they thinking?!

6. ‘8 missed calls from mom’ notification from Ola

Ola recently decided to share notification about the discount offered by the cab service with an alarming message that was titled ‘8 missed calls from mom’. This was called by the users of the app who said that stunts like these can really affect people in trying times like these.

7. Burger King’s Women’s Day tweet

On the occasion of Women’s Day, Burger King tweeted “Women belong in the kitchen”. This was done to get the attention of people who’d then try to find out more about why the brand would say this and click on the thread to find that it was actually trying to counter the stereotype. This was silly as hell and the company deleted the post soon.

It also noted:

8. World Wildlife Fund’s advertisement with 9/11 visuals

The WWF wanted to bring to people’s notice the number of people who died due to the Tsunami in 2005, which is fair, but they went on to do this by playing visuals of burning twin towers and VFX planes rushing towards them. The ad said that the number of casualties in the Tsunami was a hundred times more than the 9/11 tragedy.

We don’t compare deaths. Never. WWF later expressed regret over the ad and said that “it should have never been made”. 

A little more sensitivity, please?