• Fails

The Worst Viral Marketing Campaigns

List RulesVote up the worst viral marketing campaigns that failed the hardest.

It's the 21st century and weird viral marketing campaigns are everywhere. It used to be that you could walk down the street and not worry that every passer-by was trying to sell you something. But now, everywhere you look, you've got to worry that you're being tricked by viral marketing. The best kinds of viral ads are the campaigns where you don't even know you're being advertised to. Volvo, Old Spice, and Dove come to mind when we think of companies with the best viral ads, but that's not what we're talking about here.

This list is made up of the dregs of viral marketing - the worst commercials that don't even know what they're trying to sell and the public stunts that backfired horribly. This is the list of the worst viral marketing fails ever.

On a day to day basis, the average person is inundated with a bazillion pieces of advertising, and it's on the companies themselves (or their marketing firms) to make their ads stand out from the white noise that permeates the air. But usually, the disconnect between the people at those companies and the people they're marketing to makes for some epic fails. 

Take a look at these viral marketing fails and vote on which ad campaigns failed the hardest.

  • 9

    The Time DHL Disowned Their Own Marketing

    Video: YouTube

    In 2014, a marketing company released a video where unwitting UPS delivery men had to carry boxes that advertised for their competitor, DHL. It's was a brilliant idea, albeit a mean-spirited one. DHL disowned the campaign completely, saying, "The video was created by an external agency for their own internal competition. We were aware in advance of the intention to use it for this purpose. We were not aware of any plans to share it externally."

    Sure they did DHL; we call fail. 

    11
    2
    Bad ad?
  • 10

    The 'Code Blue' Alert That Nobody Used

    Video: YouTube

    At best, Coors's "Code Blue" campaign was a confusing mess that never should have existed. In a nutshell, it offered consumers over the age of 21 to send their friends a "Code Blue" alert over Facebook, inviting them for a beer. Nevermind the fact that this was in 2008 when you could simply text your friend and ask them out for a drink.

    Maybe we, as hip young ironic millennials, should bring "Code Blue" back into the cultural lexicon?

    10
    2
    Bad ad?
  • 11

    Olive Garden's Random Act Of Pasta

    Video: YouTube

    In 2014, Olive Garden quietly released a video of a man using his $100 "Never Ending Pasta" Pass to feed homeless people and a bunch of Redditors ripped it to shreds. Other than people on Reddit, no one seemed to care about this ad.

    8
    3
    Bad ad?
  • 12

    The Toyota Matrix Stalking Campaign

    Video: YouTube

    For some reason, Toyota thought it would be an awesome idea to make people think they were being stalked. Which, when you watch the in-house video explaining the campaign, it does seem like something that could be cool in a perfect world, but unfortunately ours isn't.

    When a Los Angeles woman started receiving the wacky emails and motel bills, she didn't think, "Oh that Toyota, what a fun brand!" The disgruntled woman sued for $10 million.

    7
    3
    Bad ad?