How To NOT Write Copy: 8 Bad Copywriting Examples & Marketing Fails

By | November 2, 2019

Have you ever seen a headline or ad so bad
that it makes you wonder… Uhh. How did no one spot THAT? Here are 8 cringeworthy copy fails that will
have you think twice before pushing publish! So, as a copywriter, I am sure you’ve made
your fair share of typos, grammar mistakes and misplaced punctuation when you’re burning
the midnight oil during a launch or rushing to meet a campaign deadline. If you’re lucky, your worst case scenario
is just a run-on sentence or a missing word here and there. If you’re not so lucky, it’s a media backlash
that ends up as a meme on the TIFU sub-reddit.. Gone are the days when the protocols to publish
something involved meticulous rounds of approval and proofreading before it went to the printers. Today, anything from anyone can go live to
millions of viewers with just the click of a button. Which is why as creators, we have to take
the extra measure to review and proof our work before hitting publish, post, send, or
share! Because once you do, it’s out there – forever. * Just going to take a screenshot of that…* So this week, I’m sharing 8 examples of
epic copywriting fails that you definitely want to avoid. Because let’s face it, sometimes the best
way to grow is to learn what not to do. But if you also want to learn what to do to
write compelling, persuasive copy you’re in the right place. Hit subscribe below. Because I release a new copywriting tutorial
every single week. Now, here are 8 times copywriting went oh-so-very-wrong. Let these mistakes be a cautionary tale to
remind you that as copywriter and marketer, you need to check yourself before you wreck
yourself. When a joke goes wrong… Our first fail is brought to you by our friends
at AirBnb. I’m talking about this tone-deaf ad that
was plastered all over San Francisco. It reads: Dear Public Library System, We hope
you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later. Okay so firstly, this ad references something
so obscure that the majority of people are likely to read it and think, what are you
talking about? After I did some research I discovered that
when AirBnb was asked to fork out millions in hotel taxes, they put up this ad to suggest
how the government should be spending that money. But they made the huge mistake of throwing
shade at the San Francisco public library system… Which really had nothing to do with the hotel
taxes in the first place, so that’s weird. But they also neglected the fact that San
Francisco’s public libraries were already struggling to pay their staff and get financial
support. So, as much as we all love a bit of tongue-in-cheek
sarcasm, if your copy trivialises a serious struggle in misdirected rage, it’s no longer
a marketing faux pas — it’s just in bad taste. After a heated backlash and a public apology,
even AirBnb CEO Brian Chesky himself admitted that “it made us look like jerks.” When you alienate your audience If you’re going to run a campaign, make
sure you don’t accidentally offend, or worse — marginalise a group from your audience
just to prove a point. For instance, when Minnesota health plan provider,
Blue Cross Blue Shield, decided to encourage people to exercise more by ditching the elevator
and taking the stairs, they completely forgot about the people who rely on elevators to
get around. Their cringeworthy ad read, “Today is the
day we take the stairs. Let’s start making healthier decisions today.” I’m sure this guy is thinking, yeah, great. Thanks ***hole. A large number of people who use elevators,
use them not because they can but because they have to. So, what’s the lesson here? Let’s start making better copy decisions
today! Always know who you’re talking to so you
don’t alienate any part of your audience! When you try to be too clever Studies have shown that the average adult
reads at a 7-8th grade level, which is why most mainstream novels are written for the
average Junior High Student. Well the same goes for your copy. It needs to be simple to be effective, no
matter your niche! But clearly this online publication didn’t
get the memo… The pop-up call-to-action on their website
reads: “It’s never too late to start over. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try
something better today. Don’t stay stuck. Do better.” LOL. WHAT? In a painful attempt to sound clever this
call-to-action created nothing but confusion. Do I agree, do I disagree? Why does it even matter? What does it mean!? When you’ve been living under a rock Here’s another display of tongue-in-cheek
copy gone terribly, terribly wrong…. This Christmas catalogue ad by Bloomingdale’s
features a man looking intently at an oblivious woman, who apparently is his best friend,
with the caption “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Well, that went downhill from cheek to creep
fast! How did nobody on the ad team catch THAT before
it went to print? Not like a joke like this is ever cool, but
especially in today’s #MeToo era, Bloomingdale’s how did you think that was ok? Have you been living under a rock or are you
just completely insensitive? I’d chance a bet you didn’t have a single
woman on your ad team, when you created that ad, because if you did, it would have been
thrown in the trash and it would never have seen the light of day. When you’re just a bit too controversial They say that any publicity is good publicity. Well… That might not always be true. Now don’t get me wrong — I like a good,
rebellious ad that disrupts the norm. But the line between “Wow!” and “Whoa..”
is sometimes very fine. Berlin-based Funeral Home, Bergemann Sohn
decided to promote their service by placing a large ad on the wall of the underground
station, on the other side of the tracks, with the words — “Come A Little Closer”. Ehh… yeah, you might have my attention. But do you have my business? I am not so sure. This ad trivializes death and belittles suicide,
which is no laughing matter. While I can see the humor in it, this ad makes
me feel a little bit uneasy. What do you guys think? Funny or faux pax? Comment below and let me know. When you make a reference that no one gets. If you’re a copywriter or marketer who spends
a lot of time indulging in pop culture content in your spare time…It can be hard to resist
slipping in a little timely inside joke into your copy. However — references without context will
likely backfire and make your reader go “Huh?”. Like this pop-up call-to-action from Mashable. It reads” You can pronounce “gif” however
you’d like. Get the best of digital culture with the Click
Click Click newsletter. First, they randomly use the whole “gif”
pronunciation debate as their main headline, then they promote their obscurely-named Click
Click Click newsletter, neither with much context. So I’m seriously confused and wonder what
“gif” or “gif” has to do with anything? But now I’m actually curious to know – how
do you pronounce it? When you “me, me, me” all over the place Now, I’ve said this before and I’ll say
it again — your prospects will always ask the question “What’s in it for me?”. YOU is one of the most powerful words used
in copywriting. So it’s easy to see where Rareloop went
wrong. Their homepage copy reads “We’re Digital
Artisans. An expert team passionate about crafting bespoke
websites and apps.” Their prospects are likely yawning and leaving
the page way before they even get to the CTA button that says “Get to Know Us” LAME. So whether you’re selling a product or a
service, your sales copy should focus on what you can do for your customer. Not try to sell how great you are. When a pun goes wrong. So, so wrong. Okay I’ll be the first to admit, I love
a good pun and humor is a great way to drive engagement… But not at the expense of your brand identity
or ad message. Like McDonalds implying their backdoor is
open for business at 6am. Or RayBans reminder of where to wear their
sunglasses… Or Sheets Energy Strips sharing one way to
use their product…. While funny yes, these pundamental copy flaws
could have had some detrimental consequences on the brand after the fact. So, as copywriters, keep your dirty jokes
and puns to yourself! Jeez guys. Ok there you have it. 8 copywriting mistakes you should absolutely
never repeat. Thanks so much for watching guys give me a
thumbs up below if you liked this video. And next if you want to see some killer examples
of 10 brands that are getting their slogans and headlines right you can check it out right
here. And be sure to subscribe to catch my video
next week. Until then, I’m Alex. Ciao for now!

14 thoughts on “How To NOT Write Copy: 8 Bad Copywriting Examples & Marketing Fails

  1. Brenda White Post author

    Fail #2 @3:05 is my favorite. Great picture and oh so true. No one intends for that to happen…but it did. Funny & sad at the same time.
    I'm a new subscriber. I love your energy, Alex. Thank you so much for sharing. All 8 are great!! Keeping in my quiver for future reference.

  2. random Post author

    hey alex
    I am looking to start copywriting and I am willing to even do it for free initially to prove my self to the people who are potential clients
    Do you have any tips on how should I be moving forward with this

    I also think that your channel is underrated

  3. Alla K Post author

    In English I pronounce it "djif". In my native language I pronounce it both ways, depending on my mood :))) but most of us, I believe, call it "guifka" :))

  4. Sana Asad Post author

    This channel's gonna have huge number of followers in future. Great work mam.

  5. Allison B Post author

    Cringeworthy example: when a local window company placed a billboard ad last year saying, "Your wife is hot (get her more energy efficient windows)" UGH! Great video 🙂


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