Bad Marketing Idea

bad marketing idea

People like me (and most others who work in the wide and vague field called “marketing”) often are amazed and impressed by some of the ingenious promotional work from the top-level agencies that serve clients with huge international presences and deep bank accounts. It’s rare that these ad shops come up with a really bad marketing idea, but the agency—or one of the agencies—serving McDonald’s recently did just that.

mcdonalds bad marketing ideaIf you look in the dictionary under “Bad Marketing Idea,” you might see the picture on the right >. (Click it for full size)

According to, the bloody promotion was run in Portugal to help McDonald’s suck money out of the Portuguese people with a 2-for-1 ice cream sundae offer. Using the phrase “Sundae Bloody Sundae” to grab ice-cream lovers’ attention, however, was a bad marketing idea that bordered on utter stupidity.

Now, there are words that many “experts” believe should be avoided in marketing/advertising content, words such as “unique,” “quality,” “experienced,” “revolutionary,” and “unbelievable.”

While in some cases, these words fit nicely into a marketing piece, generally they’re discouraged because they’re vague and open to interpretation. The trick to good marketing language is using words that immediately tell the reader what to think, words for which there can be no misinterpretation.

Words like “bloody,” for example.

Yes, it’s pretty hard to misinterpret that word. Who the hell would put “bloody” in an ad for a fast-food racket? I mean joint. Since we’re on the subject, here are some other words/phrases that should never be used in marketing literature—especially headlines.

Words that are perfect for a bad marketing idea

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Strangulation
  • Taylor Swift
  • Pedophile
  • Body cavity
  • Kill
  • Funeral (unless you run a funeral parlor; even then, it’s questionable)
  • Lower bowel obstruction
  • Incest

It’s nearly impossible to use these and other similar words and phrases in an ad headline in a way that would cause a normal person to want to keep reading.

“Sundae Bloody Sundae” was a bad marketing idea that McDonald’s pulled, but only after a social media uproar, which is a good way to put an end to almost anything.

The story quotes a Twit (Twitter user) who suggested people in Portugal thought the headline was referencing the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” the opening track on the album War by the band U2. The song is about the 1972 mass shooting/killing by British troops of 13 unarmed civil rights protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland. The event is commonly known as “Bloody Sunday.”

The above-mentioned Twit’s idea isn’t sensible, though: the U2 song is about the massacre, so what difference does it make if McDonald’s was trying to sell its crap ice cream with a song about violence and bloodshed or with the memory of an incident of violence and bloodshed?

Of course, a bad marketing idea isn’t going to stop McDonald’s. In fact, on the page where the article appears, look who takes top billing:

mcdonalds 2 for 1 marketing campaign

(NOTE: The featured image at the top is from



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