4 excruciating examples of deliberately bad marketing

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Finding the right tone of voice for a brand can be a minefield. In recent years, there’s been a trend towards a more informal, knowing and even sarcastic approach. But while this mirrors a tendency to more casual presentation and communication in wider society, sometimes it can be as cringeworthy as school teacher trying way too hard to be ‘down with the kids’.

It’s a tough balance to get right, and the brands below have demonstrated just how fine the line is between sounding refreshingly frank and gratingly forced. They could perhaps take some lessons from the best branding books.

01. Oatly’s irritating Reddit ad

Screenshot of Oatly's Reddit ad

The start of Oatly’s Reddit ad (opens in new tab) (Image credit: Future owns)

“Your advertising campaigns are consistently the most grating and pathetic faux-cool b*llsh*t. I am actively hostile toward your brand.” Ouch, I don’t think this is the kind of response that Oatly was hoping for when it took out an ad on Reddit. The brand was already getting on people’s nerves with its ‘corporate irreverence’, but this facetious post, in which it claimed to have just discovered email marketing, rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way.

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