Top Digital Communication Fails in 2020 [With Real Cases]

Top Digital Communication Fails in 2020 [With Real Cases]

Digital communication is the best way you can communication about anything these days. You can communicate with a lot of people through a single medium. Digital communication has also been the best way to communicate for promoting marketing value and reaching the target audience. In brief, digital communication is one way to boost your business without having to find many ways to reach your customers.

Today, more than 50% of the world’s population is available on digital platforms. When somebody has to buy something, go somewhere or even start a new business venture, they first check the digital platforms. In short, digital platforms have made it easy for the services/products to reach their customers and vice versa.

But everything has its pros and cons. Sometimes the advertisers have an excellent idea in mind but fail to put it out properly in words and pictures. This failure causes a misinterpretation of ideas in the mind of customers. They will fail to understand the concept of the idea or the launch of the products if the idea is not interpreted properly.

And this mishappening has happened several times.  Not only beginners but big brands have also failed miserably in some digital communications. These failures show that not every idea that looks good in the brain gets presented well.

In this article, we have listed down some examples of digital communication fails that were made by some of the popular brands across the globe. Some of them had brilliant ideas but could not interpret them immaculately. And some of them gave a completely wrong message from what it was originally meant to be.

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So, moving on with the articles, the examples listed here are to give a glimpse of how the audience is changing, how intricately the content is being watched, and how even the best can make mistakes.

So, let’s start

#1. Choose words wisely- Here is how Heineken didn’t

The thoughts have to be put in words the best way. As said English is a funny language and it does prove that sometimes. And some words create chaos at times. It does not mean the writer did not have an awesome idea, but it’s just that the idea did not get interpreted properly.

Heineken was one brand that we would like to highlight, which went wrong with the words.

                                                       Photo Courtesy: Heineken

Heineken had put out a commercial that said, ‘Sometimes, lighter is better’ Well the brand wanted to convey a really good message by saying drinking the lighter version is better for health and for the taste buds.

But unfortunately, the word ‘lighter’ got a completely new meaning.

Heineken had to pull down its commercial because some of the audiences thought the ad to be racist. Yes, the word ‘lighter’ had taken a completely different meaning. We are sure that the copywriters never thought that the meaning of lighter would be misinterpreted.

What we get to learn from this failure is that, no matter how many quality checks you go through, sometimes mistakes do happen. So, for the headline- choose your words wisely.

#2. Incorporate Images Intelligently- How Dove went wrong with branding?

Not only words have to be chosen wisely but you need to incorporate image also in your ads by thinking a thousand times. Go through the image story and have a look and give every detail a thought before posting it.

But this is where the famous ‘Dove’ brand went wrong. Dove brand is always known for showcasing and inspiring the real beauty of women. But the image it used in the latest ad, disappointed its users to another level.

Photo Courtesy: The Guardian

The image showed a black woman turning into a white one after applying dove. ‘Ouch!’ that did hurt! Many women were offended and Dove had to bring down the images and also had to post an apology.

So, you see visuals were disturbing and the marketing campaign went wrong. Even the message that they tried to convey was wrong. Thus, faced the consequences.

#3. Don’t overdo sensitive content – Tanishq’s example

When you are creating content about sensitive issues like secularism, religion, casteism, racism, etc., you have to be extra careful, even when you try to promote these feelings positively, they can get messed up. Check the ad a million times and take thoughts from everyone before publishing it. The more suggestions you take, the more things you can scrutinize in your video/ photo/ content.

Well, but the sensitive content went completely wrong with a major diamond Jewellery brand- Tanishq.

Their latest commercial was the launch of their new Jewellery line known as- ‘Ekatvam’. It literally means uniting or oneness. The ad had its own series of ad interpreting oneness in different ways. But their one commercial went completely wrong and created a mess.

Photo Courtesy: The Mumbai Mirror

The commercial showed a Hindu girl being pregnant and the Muslim mother-in-law throwing a baby shower for her. The girl gets surprised and says, “You don’t have this ritual in your religion?” to which the mother in law replies “Well but we do have a ritual of keeping daughter-in-law happy.”

The ad irked the sentiments of many people. They criticized it saying that the ad promoted sexism and ‘love-jihad’. Why was there a Muslim family with a Hindu daughter in law and why not vice versa? Then there were questions that why only the daughter in law was kept happy or had her rituals when she was pregnant?

Well, Tanishq wanted to promote secularism but the public sentiments were hurt. Well, we are sure Tanishq never thought that its idea of showing Hindu-Muslim unity would go haywire.

Some people came up in support of Tanishq, too. They said they did not find anything wrong with the ad. But there are millions of people and you can’t keep everyone happy, but we surely should try not to hurt anyone too. We just hope Tanishq gets better next time.

#4. Promote products with intelligence- Amazon ‘Prime Day’ case study

Promoting products and offering discounts is the best way to get customers on board. It is a proven fact that customers get attracted to discounts. But customers even get offended if the discount method is cheating them, or there were some bizarre terms and conditions. Customers are offended when the sellers show 50% off but have hidden saddening surprises.

One such disaster happened in 2015 with the world’s leading company Amazon. Everyone is well aware of the huge discounts that Amazon gives during its Prime Day sale. But a product sale went wrong with this huge e-commerce market.

In 2015, during its prime day sale, Amazon offered a discount of 0.10 cents on the Sony PlayStation. The Sony PS4 costs almost $400 but Amazon promoted it by saying it is offering a 10-cent discount on the product.

Photo Courtesy: Yullux

Imagine a giant marketing brand like Amazon giving just a 10-cent product discount on a whopping price of $400. Well, #PrimeDayFail did not trend for the wrong reasons that year.

People also assumed that maybe Amazon wanted to say 10 percent discount and it missed the word ‘per’. Well, intentionally or non-intentionally but the prime day discount failed miserably.

#5. Remember every word has two meanings – the TATA Nano ad campaign case

When you say something, it is interpreted in various ways. You have to explain your ideas in every way to put them in the right order. The way of saying and the choice of words matter a lot when you want to convey something digitally. Well, this is where an ad campaign of TATA Motors went wrong.

TATA launched its most budgeted car, TATA Nano in India to make the dream of every Indian owning a car come true. It also promised to deliver this car in mere 1 lakh rupees with all the possible facilities. Everyone went berserk with the idea and waited for the car launch.

Photo Courtesy: YouTube

But TATA launched its car with the tagline saying, “India’s cheapest car.” Now the word ‘cheap’ took a totally different meaning. Instead of thinking of it as an inexpensive car, the public thought that the word ‘cheap’ meant compromise on quality. The sales of the car thus went very low post the ad campaign.

Well TATA wanted to deliver smiles but it delivered suspicion instead.

#6. Be clear in what you show- Apple just seems to miss it here

If you have a good idea in mind, but a mere 1 minute or less to showcase that idea, then you have to be really innovative to showcase your idea. You will also need to put the message in the ad in a simple way so that the common people can understand.

But sometimes being quirky gets in the way of delivering the exact message. This is what happened with Apple’s latest ad. Apple wanted to incorporate the idea of privacy in the user’s mind. It wanted to tell people not to share intimate data on social media as some things should be private.

Nowadays as security breaches are high, Apple wanted to convey that they are fully efficient in securing data, but at the same time a user also has to be safe on their side too. Like if you share your pets’ name and birthday, breachers may know that maybe your password and hack the data.

Photo Courtesy: The Verge

The idea of Apple was profound but the interpretation was not clear. The TVC that showed the idea, portrayed random people blabbering about their personal lives. Then in the end the iPhone gets locked and the apple logo shows the message – Privacy matters. The ad was understood by people who knew what marketing campaigns looked like or people from the marketing industry.

However, the normal people did not get the meaning of the ad. Thus, the idea was great but the idea could not be put in proper visualizations. Hence the message could not reach the target audience, as intended.

#7. Make sure the Ad is not misleading- This is how KFC went wrong

Your idea can be portrayed in multiple different ways. But what if the visuals change the concept of the idea completely? This is what happened in the Australian ad of KFC.

The KFC ad was supposed to showcase the idea that no matter how you are feeling- sad, embarrassed, or happy, KFC is always there on your side. And to showcase the idea of the embarrassment it showed a girl adjusting her bra in front of the window of the car, not knowing that there could be possible people inside.

When the mom slides down the window of the car, the girl sees two young boy children giving her surprised looks. Then the girl forgets her embarrassment and enjoys a KFC meal.

Photo Courtesy: The Daily Mail

The netizens became angry on seeing the ad. The ad did promote sexism, plus the young boys in the ad were ‘too young’ to be shown in such a role. Thus, KFC did send an apology to the people saying it did not know that the ad would go this wrong.

So, the portrayal of ideas in the right way is very important while putting your ideas in action.

To conclude,

Failures and success are a part of life. But when you are digitally communicating an idea or promoting a service/ product you have to be extra careful. Nowadays ads are more than just promotions, they are actually acting as ‘influencers’ for many.

People don’t just watch ads to see the product, but they also want to know what makes the product different from its competitors. Sometimes the hidden meaning impresses the customer and he/she becomes a fan of the brand.

You should also know the genre of your target audience when you promote your brand on social media. Once you have established a connection with them, they will understand every idea that you have been trying to portray. Even the hidden meanings will be decoded easily.

Thus, digital communication is not just promoting a product/service but it is actually building a brand value, a relationship, and a connection with the customers.

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].