7 Promotional Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Marketing done well can improve your brand’s awareness, leads, sales and referrals. However, when mistakes are made, it can lead to negative PR, sales boycotts and sales slumps. Marketing teams must take care with the message that they are promoting to their audience to ensure that it comes across exactly as they intended it to. Whether you are promoting products such as merchandise or promoting large scale advertising campaigns, it is essential that your business minimise any negative messages that could arise from your marketing campaign. Below are a few examples from the real world.

The product or service that you are promoting must fulfill its promise.

Customers of your product or service put their trust in you to fulfil your promise to them. Set the expectations for your customers and meet or exceed them. Should you not fulfil the expectations of your customers, they may feel negative towards your brand.

Choose your words carefully!

Use words in your advertising copy very carefully. Each word that is used should craft the audience’s interest in your product or service. Words that project the wrong image can damage your brand’s image.



Golden Gaytime has been a favourite with Australians. The word gay was originally associated with happy. However, the meaning of the word in the modern era is associated with homosexuality.



Coon cheese is a popular Australian cheddar whose branding is named after the family founders. Unfortunately, the word ‘coon’ has become a racial slur, inflicted on dark skinned individuals (usually Australian Aboriginals).

Be delicate with the image that your brand is portraying to minimise offending others.

There are thousands of people with thousands of different lifestyles and ideologies. Clever marketers know how to target specific groups without discriminating or offending others. Tactics such as pricing promotions or qualification criteria are subtle ways to target specific groups without causing offence. However, some marketing activities can cause agitation and anger among other groups.



This image was used widely in Protein World’s advertising campaign. While there are those who don’t find any offense in the ad, many others found it offensive that women should be objectified and that the message sent to the audience is that they should conform to a beach body look to be considered ‘normal’. Despite the negative backlash, they reported their revenue growth tripling following the campaign.

Similarly, the BIC pen ad from South Africa caused a stir.



While some didn’t see any offense in this ad, others saw the ‘Think like a man’ phrase as derogatory towards women. Both men and women are equal thinkers in the workforce, so it is demeaning to say that women aren’t the same or better thinkers than men.

Promotional placement

The place where you are promoting your product or service is just as important as the ad that has been developed. The wrong placement can make all of your marketing efforts come undone. You can see example of ad placement fails below.



This ASDA advertisement promoting fighting DVDs appeared in a newspaper alongside an article discussing domestic violence. Needless to say, the ad placement was completely wrong and as a result, negative PR followed on social media and other press.

The advertisement that you are promoting should be easily understood by your audience.

Some of the frustrations from people viewing ads is that the advertisement is confusing, difficult to understand and that it doesn’t make any sense. You can see an example below.



This advertisement for the PlayStation 2 was meant to arouse curiosity, but it was confusing and too abstract for many who simply wanted to play their favourite video games.

Marketing should be handled delicately to minimise the risk of any mistakes and to ensure that the marketing message is communicated clearly so the desired outcome is met. Learn from the failings of others to make your campaign a success!


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