(Accidentally) Racist Donuts
Over in the United Kingdom the fine folks at Krispy Kreme donuts ran a special menu with a different promotion for each day of the week. Wednesday was designated “KKK Wednesday.” Yikes. It was meant to stand for Krispy Kreme Klub but no one would immediately think that.
To advertise The Man in the High Castle, a show that depicts an alternate history where the Axis Powers won WWII, a New York City subway was covered in imagery inspired by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. This was so well received that the mayor of New York City had to order their removal.
Woolworth's Anzac Memorial
On the Anzac memorial holiday Woolworth's invited Australian and New Zealand customers to honor those who died in combat while also promoting the store's fresh offerings by submitting an image of someone they wanted to honor to accompany the above text. This was so disastrous that the campaign was pulled in three hours.
I Love Ugly
Clothing brand I Love Ugly decided to double-down on sexism with print ads that featured the bejeweled hands of men covering female nudity, promoting accusations that the ads reduce women to objects. Again, hard to argue against that.
Upbeat Heroin Tune
Superbowl fans in St. Louis, Missouri were treated to an upbeat ukelele tune describing how one gets addicted to and killed by heroin, complete with a dead teenager and horrified mother. This seriously happened. Though criticized as tasteless and bizarre, the ad succeeded in promoting traffic to the advertised website.