- Take Two software features OJ Simpson in its new All Pro Football game. In the game Simpson plays on a team called The Assassins. The mascot is a hooded figure who makes stabbing motions with a large knife in the end zone when the Assassins score.
- Tie: Several companies don’t realize that references to Nazis are offensive.
- A Mumbai-based home furnishing company releases “The Nazi Collection” of bedspreads that feature swastikas. Although the swastika is a symbol of luck in India that goes back thousands of years, the company’s explanation for the name of the collection – it allegedly was an acronym for “New Arrival Zone for India” – put the lie to that.
- Zara, a UK retail chain, pulls bags that are found to have swastikas on them.
- Bell Canada has to pull ads that show a young woman wearing a button that says “Belsen Was A Gas” – a reference to a song by the Sex Pistols.
- Italian winery releases Der Fuerher branded wine. Labels feature Nazi leaders, etc. Italian police not amused and seize wine. Wonder what happened to the evidence?
- Cartoon Network fails to notify authorities that it will be placing odd electronic devices on bridges. In Boston, hilarity ensues. Nine other cities in the US scratch their heads. Parent company Turner Broadcasting coughs up $2 million for Boston’s freak out. Nine other cities in the US wish they’d freaked out, too.
- Tie: car companies can’t figure out that suicide isn’t funny:
- GM runs Super Bowl ad that shows robot getting laid off from job at GM plant and killing itself.
- VW ad shows man coaxed back from jumping off ledge by news that VW has cars priced less than $17K.
- Hershey begins selling Ice Breakers Pacs – small, clear-plastic envelopes of white powder. Police have problem with this. Hershey fails to capitalize. Does not claim that snorting breath mint is healthier than snorting cocaine or heroin.
- Johnson & Johnson sues the Red Cross over the use of… wait for it … the red cross.
- German campaign to raise funds for UNICEF features blonde kid in black face. Quoting AdFreak: This campaign was meant to raise support for schools in Africa, but even that part of the message is mangled by lines that sound like they’re condemning an entire continent: “In Africa, kids don’t come to school late, but not at all.” The campaign’s apparently been pulled after international criticism, although UNICEF notes that there was no “negative reaction from the German public after publication.”
- Spirit Airlines two-fer:
- Doesn’t realize that its “Many Islands, Low Fares” promotion will result in a very unfortunate acronym.
- CEO Ben Baldanzasends email berating customers asking for a refund to said customers. Head of corp. communications adds fuel to the fire with following quotes:
“No, we really don’t believe we have anything to apologize for regarding Ben’s e-mail.”
“I can tell you that Ben cares enormously about our customers and our customer service. Ben said what is exactly true: that we don’t owe the customer anything. People can and do post whatever they would like on the Internet. But it cannot alter your adherence to your company policy or your procedures.”
- Virginia tourism agency runs ads showing people flashing a hand signal used by the Gangster Disciples
- Apple manages to generate ill will during most successful product release of the year. Shortly after the release of the Jesus Phone, Apple cut the price of the iPhone by $200, thereby pissing off early buyers and giving the press a reason to take a break from gushing over the gadget. This would have ranked higher but it had no impact on sales whatsoever. Great product will survive.
2008 Nominations now open…
Coming soon the famous Collateral Damage list of the year’s worst press releases.