It’s that festive time of year again, where you’re doing everything you can to stay on Santa’s nice list. Marketing is a full-time job for every company, and when it comes to the holidays it is a great chance to make your mark and really please an audience and potential new marketplace. Some of the best marketing campaigns at Christmas leave a lasting mark on the consciousness of the general public; think the Coca Cola Christmas advert and the annual wait with bated breath to hear what the John Lewis song will be.

There is a lot of competition out there, especially at Christmas, and sometimes there are brand fails that can have a lasting impact in a negative sense on the success of a brand and a company.

Here, we look at some examples of Christmas marketing disasters. We’re betting these are all on Santa’s naughty list and won’t be getting anything but a lump of coal this Christmas!

  1. Pizza delivered by a reindeer

Everyone knows the Domino’s branding. They have always gone for the quirky publicity stunt from time to time throughout the years but made a misstep when it came to a Christmas marketing campaign in recent years. We’d seen the pizza behemoth trial pizza delivery by drones in Australia but in Japan they took things a step further over the festive period. The drones were changed to reindeers. Makes sense, right? Rudolph and the crew delivering pizza over Christmas whilst they deliver presents the world over with Santa. The idea was for reindeer to pull takeaway pizzas on a sled, but as you can imagine it is really hard to train reindeers to behave in the exact way you want them to. Deliveries were severely delayed, turned up late and cold, if at all, and it was a big Christmas marketing disaster. Domino’s quickly realised the error and decided to dress up delivery scooters as reindeer instead!

  • Don’t feed Pudding to your dog at Christmas!

Supermarket chain Morrisons got into trouble back in 2012 with its Christmas advert. It was only 90 seconds in length but caused many problems for the company, with complaints coming in thick and fast. The premise of the advert was about a woman trying to get ready for Christmas. It showed her preparing to fight a dead turkey in a boxing ring. Funny? maybe, but what was the problem? In a small part of the advert, we witness a young boy giving his dog a bit of the Christmas pudding at the dinner table. Pudding can kill a dog however, and the complaints were warranted. Morrisons quickly removed that part of the advert and focused on the wrestling of a dead turkey instead, which didn’t get many complaints by all accounts.

  • Confusing your holidays

Macy’s is a pretty big deal in the US, and if you think about how important Christmas marketing is, you’ll be surprised by this Christmas marketing disaster. Christmas is obviously a religious holiday in its origin, even if many non-religious people now celebrate it. An email newsletter sent out by Macy’s though a few years ago missed the mark and confused Christmas with Hanukkah. It announced a last-minute sale, with the images depicting a Christmas scene. Hanukkah does sometimes fall on the same day as Christmas, but there really is no excuse to make this sort of mistake. Always make sure that you double check everything in a newsletter or other type of content that you’re including as part of your annual Christmas marketing campaign.

Shoppers walk into a Macy’s department store Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, at Miami International Mall in Doral, Fla. Macy’s is reporting a 52% drop in fiscal-fourth quarter earnings while sales dropped nearly 19% as shoppers continue to stay away from many physical stores during the pandemic. The department store chain said Tuesday, Feb. 23 it anticipates 2021 as “a recovery and rebuilding year as the company sets a foundation for growth.“ (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
  • Be careful with your Christmas copy

The 2015 Christmas marketing campaign from Bloomingdale’s looked fine with a quick glance but there were all sorts of wrong with the copy. The print campaign selling Rebecca Minkoff clothing included a well-dressed man looking on at a well-dressed woman. Seemingly, they are a couple that are well suited to each other, an aspirational ad campaign that aims to get the customer thinking about dressing better. The problem came in the copy. There was a line that said, “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” The line is insensitive, especially with the rise in sexual assault cases, and was removed quickly. We’re not sure whether the copywriter was attempting dark humour, trying to be edgy or just different, but it was a big xmas marketing fail!

  • Naughty Elf

In 2017 the UK budget store Poundland set pulses racing with its social media campaign that Christmas period. The series included a little elf in risqué poses and generally up to no good like the naughty elf that he was! It was full of innuendo, sexual imagery and felt close to the line like much British comedy does. One image had the elf playing poker around a table with two scantily clad female dolls and a topless male doll alongside the caption “Joker, joker, I really want to poker.” The British Advertising Standards Authority and the tabloid press saw this as a step too far, calling the campaign ‘irresponsible’ and ‘outrageous’. Despite this, the naughty elf did reappear around Christmas 2018!

Make your Christmas marketing campaigns work

Candy understands digital advertising and how to develop stunning, innovative marketing campaigns that speak directly to the audience you are attempting to entice. We know how to build brands that have a positive perception and at Christmas time it is a good chance to be creative and capture the imagination of your customers.

If you would like to speak with us to find out more information about how our digital marketing services can help build your brand and deliver amazing marketing campaigns, call us today on 0161 826 0123 or email us