Some organisations had a nightmare 2017 . Can you avoid their mistakes in 2018? Copyright: antonioguillem / 123RF Stock Photo










For some organisations, 2018 can’t come fast enough. Thanks to ill-judged advertising campaigns, allegations of sexism and harassment, and scandals around tax dodging, 2017 has been a year to forget for a number of the world’s biggest companies.

So, let’s look back at some of the most epic corporate fails of 2017, and what your organisation could do to stop it happening to you.

Back in April the soft-drink giant unveiled a new ad that was meant to highlight police violence in America. In it, model Kendal Jenner joins a group of protestors facing a group of riot police. She offers a can of Pepsi to one of the policeman, who, upon drinking it, tells everyone to live together in peace and they all start hugging each other.

The backlash was fierce. Pepsi was accused of trivialising the issue and quickly pulled the advert. Ouch.

The fast-food kings came under fire from bereaved children’s charities for its TV ad where a recently bereaved small boy connects with his deceased dad through their shared love of the restaurant chain’s fish sandwiches. McDonalds was forced to apologise for appearing to capitalise on the child’s misfortune. Their intention, they claimed, was to ‘highlight the role’ the organisation plays in its customers’ lives – good and bad. Oops.

Dove ran a Facebook campaign that was particularly disastrous. The ad was basically a GIF showing women using Dove body lotion removing their tops to reveal another woman underneath. However, the GIF started with a black woman turning into a white woman, with the implication being she had cleansed herself to become white.

The organisation was forced to swiftly apologise and admitted it ‘missed the mark’ and was committed to diversity. Oh dear.

2017 was a nightmare year for the world’s biggest taxi operator. Firstly, CEO Travis Kalanick quit after being filmed arguing with an Uber driver, then came a wave of sexism and harassment allegations leading to an investigation into its culture. This investigation dug up further bad news for the taxi titans when it was revealed it used software to track rival firm drivers and other damaging revelations.

And the bad news didn’t stop there. Uber lost its operating license in London before admitting it had paid hackers $100,000 to keep schtum about a huge data breach involving 57m users. Not good.

You might be wondering why Apple’s been included in this list. They had a good year in many senses as the iPhone X continued to be a best-seller, as did its other gadgets.

However, the company was also named in a BBC Panorama investigation as not paying all the tax it owed by funnelling its profits through Ireland and Jersey. And more recently, the tech giant revealed its phones were designed to slow down with age to preserve power after users complained of iPhones taking too long to switch on.

This statement didn’t go down with all users or in the media with many saying Apple did this simply so people had to upgrade to new models to speed things up. Not the best.

These are the best-known examples of organisation fails in 2017, but there’s load more we could talk about. They each show how easy it is to get things wrong if you don’t put enough thought into what you’re doing, or aren’t transparent enough.

Consumers are turned off by brands behaving irresponsibly or who don’t follow their corporate responsibilities. And in this digital age, it’s easy for consumers to find almost anything out and spread the word on social media.

It’s about being culturally aware and sensitive at all times, knowing what your customers want, and being honest. People don’t mind you making mistakes, if you put your hands and admit it, and it was for the right reasons – not simply to increase profits.

We wish you all a happy and prosperous 2018 and hope it’s one to remember for all the right reasons.