5 Christmas Campaigns That Turned Into Huge Failures

Christmas is coming to town! ‘Tis the season for businesses to come out with amazing campaigns to tug at your heartstrings. They use different kinds of media in their campaigns in the hopes of catching our eyes and our hearts. With so much competition for our attention this season, companies are always trying different strategies. 

There are Christmas campaigns that hit the nail on the head, and some that miss the mark entirely. To put it a little bit more bluntly: some campaigns turn into PR nightmares. Here are five examples of Christmas campaigns every marketer should learn from:

1. Domino’s Reindeer Delivery Service

Domino’s is a brand that is very well known for dabbling in a publicity stunt every now and then. A way in which they like to do that is by spicing up their delivery methods. For example a couple of years ago, they delivered pies in Australia with a drone. Domino’s Japanese marketing department must have gotten inspired by this successful effort. But for the Christmas season, they decided to trade in the drones for – yes, really – reindeers.

Sounds like an amazing idea, right? We think so too, but the reindeer population in Japan did not. It turns out that it’s not easy to train reindeers when you’re not Santa. The reindeers all had a strong will of their own, which resulted in overdue deliveries and cold pizza. Before the campaign had a chance of getting noticed, Domino’s decided to dress up their scooters as reindeers instead. Bummer.

2. Bloomingdale’s Blunder

5 Christmas Campaigns That Turned Into Huge Failures | 2. Bloomingdale's Blunder

Bloomingdale’s 2015 print campaign for Rebecca Minkoff clothing is an example of holiday campaigns gone wrong. The ad looks normal at first glance as a sharply dressed man looks at a well-dressed woman. However, the horror comes in its copy that read “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Sike.

What went wrong? With the rising sexual assault cases in the United States, Bloomingdale’s print ad was very insensitive and appalling with its suggestion to slip something in your friend’s drink. If it was an attempt to be goofy, quirky, or edgy, it spectacularly backfired on them. 

3. Morrisons for your Christmas

We don’t know about you guys, but we thoroughly enjoyed this 1,5 minute long television ad. It features a desperate woman getting ready to wrestle a dead turkey in a boxing ring, what’s not to like? But believe it or not, the complaints raked up really quickly after if it first aired. 

This was caused by a small part in the commercial that was taken out. In this scene, a dog is fed pudding by a little kid during dinner. Now even though it was obviously not meant to be disturbing, the trouble comes in when you realise that pudding can be lethal for all dogs. The company quickly took out the scene and aired it once again.

4. Warburtons accidentally targets the ‘Furries’

5 Christmas Campaigns That Turned Into Huge Failures | 4. Warburtons accidentally targets the ‘Furries’

Ever heard of the furries? In short, this is a community of people that like to dress up as cartoon animals. This community is quite active on Instagram and regularly makes use of the hashtag #CrumpetCreations.

British bakery Warburton was not aware of this information. While trying to start up a Christmas competition on Instagram about their famous crumpets, they decided to use the hashtag #CrumpetCreations, hijacking the Furries’ hashtag. When unsuspecting customers of the brand went to check out to look for the results of the competition, they ended up in the Furries community. This obviously could have been solved easily by a quick search on Instagram by Warburton’s social media team.

5. Macy’s Hanukkah Christmas mix up

5 Christmas Campaigns That Turned Into Huge Failures | 5. Macy's Hanukkah Christmas mix up

A thing that people are usually quick to forget is that the Christmas season has religious origins. For that reason, you should always be respectful and thoughtful as a marketer. 

Macy’s did not get this memo. This email announces a last minute sale to get your gifts, but somebody in the office confused Christmas with Hanukkah. In some years Christmas and Hanukkah fall on the same day, but that’s about it. Considering the size of Macy’s, we assume this email went out quite a lot of customers. That’s why you should always double check!

Every year the Christmas holiday gives companies the amazing opportunity to grab loads of attention. But it can also go really wrong, really fast. That’s why you need to make sure you have all your ducks, or in this case turkeys, in a row when setting up your Christmas campaign this year. Did we miss any epic failures? Let us know in the comments!