Features

Photo Gallery: 2012′s Funniest Ad Flubs

Written on
Jan 3, 2013 
Author
Richard L. Tso  |

While we can all joke about the biggest ad mistakes of 2012, for advertisers, it’s no laughing matter. According to the study by eMarketer, print advertising in the U.S. expected to hit $39.8 billion in 2012, and online advertising was expected to finally surpass print at $39.5 billion. With ad spend on the rise for both print and digital, agencies around the globe are having to pump out ad creatives at a rapid pace, sometimes sacrificing quality at the expense of brands.

Here are some of the funniest ad mistakes that were unearthed this year:

You have surely seen this one before. Take another look at this ad that appeared on the cover of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Living section back in May. This beautiful lady looks at the camera seductively, but the headline wants you to shit yourself. This unintentional message was the result of a poor Photoshop effect applied to the headline “Suit Yourself.” Alright, this is a bit hilarious, but who is really to blame now that newspapers have less and less staff and copy editors.

This ad run by Target is spears seemingly mundane but look again. The father-figure has his left hand around his daughter, and two right hands: One at his side and one around the shoulder of his wife, most likely let slip by a careless ad agency created using Photoshop. The mistake, which would normally go unnnoticed, was viewed more than one million times in less than 24 hours since it was uploaded to Imgur. Ah the wonders of social media!

But Target isn’t the worst case of poor Photoshop snafus. Alternatively, instead of adding another limb, Ann Taylor completely erased, or Photochopped, an entire arm in an ad for the Twist Neck Short Sleeve Tee. The company immediately removed the image from its website but here it is for your viewing pleasure. Similarly, BuzzFeed pointed out that Forever 21 edits out women’s knees on their website.

The product packaging below features the Lexar SD card but if you look at its reflection, it reads “4 GB.” Aren’t reflections a passé visual element in ad creatives? If not, please stop using reflections, it doesn’t make it look sleeker, it looks dated.

Okay, this one is also a bit difficult to spot but the ad by JC Penney for Bisou Bisou features a lady with no jaw. Guess it a good way for this model to avoid food instead of going on a diet (not that she needs to).

Finally, in an ad that is just a sheer result of laziness, Emiliana Winery issued the following online ad that shows wine being poured into a glass, miraculously from the side of the closed bottle. You’ve got to be kidding me.

Let this be a lesson to all of you designers and creative directors our there, please push back on your clients if you need additional time to pull together a flawless creative. Believe me, it is well worth your time in the long run, and perhaps will prevent getting a nasty earful from your client. At the very least, it will stop your bad ad from being posted on the Web for all to ridicule.

Cheers and Happy New Year from Adotas!





Richard L. Tso is a reporter for Adotas and an avid writer covering the intersection of technology and advertising, fashion and music. With over 12 years of experience in the Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations industries, Richard has held executive positions at global agencies and technology companies and is founder of the interactive communications firm Pseudosound Consulting LLC. A classical cellist and painter, he believes that sometimes sound carries more weight than words. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

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