Contentable Blog

Content Horror Stories to Avoid Writing Yourself Into

Posted by Ashley Smith

13-Jan-2017 11:30:27

Welcome back! In recognition of Friday the 13th, we’ve turned our gaze to some gut churning, gasp inducing, blood curdling cases of content mishandling by some big brands that should have known better than to write themselves into the horror stories that you’ll find below.

For each, we’ve included some advice to guide you to avoid the same traps, and hopefully make it out alive - or at least with your brand integrity intact.

Bucket List Blunders

After the tragic loss of 537 lives on two Malaysian Airline flights back in 2014, the Airline company saw an inevitable, dramatic drop in passengers, and as such, they sought to win over would-be travelers with a competition that placed free plane tickets up for grabs.

Unfortunately, what should have been a great idea turned into another disaster for Malaysia Air. Participants were asked to respond to the question: ‘What and where would you like to tick off on your bucket list?’ While the question seems relatively innocuous on the surface, when you put into perspective that a ‘bucket list’ is a list of things that someone wants to do before they die, the entire campaign seems incredibly insensitive considering the recent tragedies.


Ultimately the competition was pulled - but the damage had already been done.

The Takeaway: An idea may sound good in the ears of a marketer, but as content specialists, we need to show empathy to our audience. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and anticipate how they may read a message before we go and put it on the line.

Should have Caught an Uber

Hashtags are a great way to generate free content from your audience, and hopefully build enough traffic to trend. But when you hand the keys of your campaign over to the public, you’d better be prepared for who you might be inviting in…

When the Victorian Taxi Association launched the #YourTaxis hashtag in November 2015, the goal was to get a steady stream of positive commentary from those using the taxi service - instead what they unintentionally created was a funnel for users to post about the sexual, verbal, and physical harassment they’d received from drivers.

Instead of pulling the plug and apologising, they dug themselves deeper into the grave by posting about how their service assists war veterans on Remembrance Day with the same #YourTaxis hashtag. To make matters worse, they misspelt Remembrance:

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The takeaway: Listen to public sentiment and respond appropriately when things aren't going right. Treat your audience on a human level, and don’t try and win them over with more ‘salesy’ material. If you anticipate that your campaign may get a negative response, a solid contingency plan can be your bullet proof vest when you come under heavy fire.

Krispy Kreme’s Bad Taste

When it comes to social media it can be easy to cast your net wide and get attention without too much stress. But as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility, so make sure that when you make a post or an event on social media, you do your best to make sure you aren’t making any unintentional gaffes, because they will be seen.


Such was the case for one UK Krispy Kreme Franchise. In an effort to promote a series of events for children during the term break, they named a particular event ‘KKK Wednesday’ without realising the gravity of the error they’d published online. A simple mistake, but a costly one, with some members of the public going so far as to degrade the donut makers with photoshopped images of Klu Klux Klan members brandishing their frosted treats - not a great look.

The takeaway: Keep in mind ‘The Three R’s’ - Research, Read, Review. Research is number one - make sure that your brand material will be on point. Take the time to read back over your work, and make sure you haven’t made any errors, and if you can, always try and get a second pair of eyes to review your work - they might just notice something you didn’t.

If you are looking for further advice when it comes to creating content that will keep you clear from danger, we’re here to put our arsenal of knowledge to good use, so get in touch with the Contentable team today!

Topics: content marketing, content creation, social media marketing, branding