5 Examples of Brand Fails on YouTube

When it comes to brands using YouTube, there are plenty of great videos out there. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of bad ones. Brands made a wide range of mistakes on YouTube, from making light of sensitive topics to posting unflattering videos of their top executives. Such mistakes can seriously damage the reputation of your brand, especially due to the particular culture of YouTube and social media in general – if you make a mistake, everyone will know about it almost immediately. Check out these five examples of brands making serious mistakes on YouTube, and remember to avoid such errors in judgment.

1. Porn Parody: Quiznos

Back in 2009, Quiznos made a YouTube fail that had everyone talking. Do you remember the infamously disgusting “2 Girls, 1 Cup” video that went viral? Quiznos decided to create a spoof of that video for their next ad campaign, called, “2 Girls, 1 Sub.” This raunchy video was not very well received by customers. While a representative from Quiznos claimed they had nothing to do with the production of the video, not everyone seems to be convinced.

2. CEO Elephant Hunting: GoDaddy

In 2011, the CEO of GoDaddy, Bob Parsons, make a major mistake with his personal YouTube usage. Parsons posted a video of himself shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe, which obviously led to major backlash. PETA, the well known animal rights activist organization, was the group that led the criticism against GoDaddy, closing their account with the company and calling on others to join them. This major fail illustrates the fact that what your top executives do on social media is just as important as how your brand uses it.

3. Sleeping on the Job: Comcast

Another major mistake that brands make on all social networks is failing to respond to criticism and customer complaints. In 2007, one displeased Comcast customer posted a video of a service technician sleeping on the job – on the customer’s couch no less! After gaining more than a million views, this sparked a wave of videos of other customers spying on their Comcast services techs. Comcast failed to respond to the incident, and instead allowed their brand reputation to be damaged.

4. Trivializing Suicide: Hyundai

Just this past year, Hyundai released a commercial on YouTube that make the egregious mistake of making light of a very sensitive issue – suicide. Their “Pipe Job” video showed a man attempting suicide via exhaust fume inhalation in his garage. However, in the video, the man is unable to go through with it because he is in a Hyundai ix35 – a fuel cell vehicle with a tail pipe that discharges water vapor. After facing criticism, the company ultimately apologized.

5. Racism: Mountain Dew

One final social media mistake that your brand should avoid at all costs is blatant racism. While it may seem obvious, brands in 2013 are still failing in this department. This year, Mountain Dew posted an ad on YouTube called “Felicia the Goat” which has been dubbed “the most racist ad ever.” Essentially, the video used a wide variety of racial stereotypes to mock another sensitive issue, domestic violence. The backlash was so strong that Pepsi was forced to withdraw the ad and delete it from YouTube.

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