DiGiorno, Sony & Miracle Mattress [Marketing Mishaps]


Experiential marketing can bring your brand to life in an immersive and unforgettable fun way. In a medium where creativity is limitless, great things can come from providing a personal and memorable experience, however the experimental nature can sometimes cause unintended results.

To help ensure your promotional events hit the headlines for good reasons only, here are some recent and all-time cringeworthy examples of marketing gone wrong – and the lessons you can learn from them. #youmissedit


DiGiorno Makes Light of Domestic Violence

With every social media post, marketers have a tough decision to make. Play it safe with a tried and true message, or push the envelope to gain attention and some mindshare. But what happens when an attempt at edgy goes horribly, horribly wrong?

On the heels of a social climb gaining cred with live comments and witty hashtags during the Colts vs Broncos NFL game, DiGiorno took a turn for the terribly worse. 


In a poorly timed and ill-researched move, DiGiorno took the #whyistayed hashtag to Twitter.  The trending hashtag was being used to give women a platform to share their real-life story and how they were trapped in their abusive relationship and felt incapable of leaving.

Hieu Trong DiGiorno.jpg

DiGiorno's social media manager claims the use of the hashtag was a coincidental mistake and not a deliberate attempt to take a trending hashtag and make a plug for pizza, but the backlash was intense. Twitter users slammed DiGiorno for mocking victims of domestic violence using its own #DiGiorNOYOUDIDNT hashtag against the brand. 

DiGiorno spent the following few days apologizing to each person who voiced disapproval and then went silent for a few weeks waiting for the air to clear, which it eventually did.

DiGiorno-individual-apologies.pngMoral of the story, always check your hashtags and don't try to control the conversation. When contributing to one already ongoing, the result may not be what you had hoped.


SMH Miracle Mattress. #toosoon


2016 marked the 15th anniversary of 9/11 terror attacks. San Antonio based Miracle Mattress thought holding a "Twin Tower Sale" where all sized mattresses would be on sale for the price of a twin was a terrible idea. But it was the backlash from the promotional video that caused the business to close its doors indefinitely.  The CEO apologized and took down the video but not before someone had already reposted it on YouTube. Unable to survive the firehouse of indignation that the internet can be at what was called "the most offensive commercial of all time" by the Huffington Post, Miracle Mattress learned, what goes online stays online.  



Sony Fakes Going Viral

In one for the record books, Sony made a historical faux pas when they attempted to create user generated content themselves. The plan was to tap into the online youth market and try to create a viral campaign for their hand-held gaming device the PSP, all while passing it off as authenic and organic. Their ad agency, Zipatoni, made an awful video with a man rapping about how all he wants for Christmas is his PSP. 

Worse than the video were the fabricated comments, bad grammar and all, being passed off as written by actual teenagers hoping for nothing more than to get their PSP:

"Here’s the deal — I have a psp but my friend jeremy does not. but he wants one this year for xmas. So we started clowning with sum not-so-subtle hints to j’s parents that a psp would be the perfect gift. we created this site to spread the luv to those like j who want a psp!"

Eventually their cover was blown and the whole campaign came off like a clueless parent trying to relate to their teenager and speak his language. 

The lesson to be learned? No agency can create viral marketing. Viral marketing happens when an experience or product is enjoyable and a consumer feels it's worthy of the share. 


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Author Bio | Casey Dubbs | Horizon Display

describe the imageCasey Dubbs, Marketing Manager for Horizon Display. Casey is a classic over-achiever who likes to get the job done right and can’t stand when things are left unfinished or with unmet potential. She is passionate about implementing others’ vision into reality. When she is not obsessing over marketing, she can be found in her garage working on her latest woodworking project. #buildlikeagirl