Five Biggest Branding Fails of 2012

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Happy almost New Year, Brandsplatters! Instead of our weekly Five Things You Might Have Missed, we’re celebrating the end of the year with our top five branding fails of 2012. Maybe they fell victim to Twitter marketing travesties or botched blog creation. Perhaps it was soggy digital engagement and horrible online PR that brought them down. But whatever it was these five brands provide excellent examples of what not to do in 2013!

1.) Chick-fil-A: Without a doubt, Chick-fil-A wins biggest branding disaster of 2012. Beyond the company’s blatant opposition to gay marriage, Chick-fil-A simply tanks at online marketing and is even worse at digital PR. The company could have used Twitter and Facebook to have an honest conversation with angry consumers but instead the company tried to sweep the entire mess under the rug and kept on posting images of it’s tragically unfunny cows as if nothing had ever happened.

2.) JC Penney: The valuable lesson that companies of every kind can learn from JC Penney is this — if you’re going to rebrand yourself as hip, than you better actually be hip. From Ellen DeGeneres to Target-like advertisements, Penney’s (as our mom called it) was trying to be cool. The only problem? They were still Penney’s. With H&M, IKEA and the aforementioned Target being actually cool and more affordable, the chain seemed irrelevant. Plus limp online videos and social media campaigns didn’t seem to help the company’s cause either.

3.) Facebook: While the company had a lot to cheer about this year (The IPO! A billion users!), the company had just as many problems — getting dumped by GM and Ford, losing younger audiences to Twitter and Tumblr and that IPO. Mainly, the brand slipped from the cutting edge by getting colder and less original with the brand messaging. Let’s hope the next year brings back the Facebook which innovates instead of imitates.

4.) McDonald’s: Oh boy. If you are considering Twitter marketing in the next year, do yourself a favor and look at McDonald’s year in Twitter and then do the exact opposite. #McDStories was the fast-food empire’s bid back in January to get Twitter users to talk about McDonald’s memories. Instead Tweeters used it to bash the brand. Other Twitter campaigns never took off and McDonald’s wound up looking like a big social media joke. Mickey D’s was also under fire over the summer for some questionable blogger bribes during the Olympics.

5.) American Apparel: Speaking of Twitter, American Apparel got spanked on Twitter like a naughty baby after offering a “bored during the storm” discount during Hurricane Sandy. Consumers were less than happy and used social media to tell American Apparel to “shut the hell up” among other things. Granted the company has never really been known for its sensitivity and smarts, but this was low even for American Apparel.

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