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November 4, 2020 - By Hawke Media

How to Recover from a Marketing Fail

Pepsi’s notoriously tone-deaf commercial featuring everyone’s favorite influencer Kendall Jenner is a prime example of an #EpicFail. The internet is a ruthless place of scrutiny, as Pepsi learned firsthand.

Should your brand find itself in a similarly sticky situation, be comforted by the fact that on a daily basis, an ‘average user’ spends 116 minutes on social media. That means your ill-received campaign exists in a space where content is extremely oversaturated, making the odds of your brand recovering from a major “L” extremely high—especially if you consider the following tips.

Listen Up

You and your team spent an ample amount of time and money putting together a marketing campaign… that failed. While developing your next steps and recovery plan, take this time to listen to what your audience is saying about the mistake. Internet users love to be heard. Though the negative comments coming from behind the comfort of a digital screen can seem deafening, this information can be valuable to use in your brand’s narrative moving forward.

Relatable Content

Mistakes happen! But how does a brand recover? Whether it’s as minor as a spelling error or as major as when crowd-favorite fashion company, Revolve unintentionally created a toxic narrative, the first step is always to acknowledge you made a mistake.

If the error was small, relate to your audience and bring humor to the mistake. If the error was large and/or offensive, reiterate your brand’s mission statement and a promise to make amends.

Silver Lining

For better or worse, it’s true that no press is bad press. Take it from an ex-best friend of the Kardashian clan, and know when to capitalize on an opportunity for publicity! Use this time wisely to prove that your brand is working hard to be better going forward.

The best way to recover is to acknowledge the mistake without dwelling on it. If you move on quickly, so will your audience. Internet trolls have an insatiable hunger for fails, so they’ll forget about yours in no time.


Although society may be hyper-sensitive nowadays, it’s important to be mindful of all potential reactions to your marketing campaigns, whether or they come from within your target audience. On the flipside, with the help of input from multiple parties, don’t let this fear of insulting people stifle your brand’s creative risks or stop you from launching a marketing campaign that’s out of the box. Just make sure to ask yourself, what would my grandparents think of this?