Pop Culture Brand Partnership News And Insights

We believe that bringing brands, content, celebrities and influencers together makes storytelling more meaningful and impactful.

3 Examples Of Influencer Marketing Gone Wrong

Posted by Adam Halpin on October 14, 2019 at 9:41 AM

When Influencer Marketing Turns Sour

When used correctly and responsibly, influencer marketing can be a highly effective way of gaining new exposure and, most importantly, sales for your brand. However, it's very easy to have an influencer marketing campaign turn sour just by a simple negative element blowing up.

There are many negative elements that can affect a marketing campaign such as a damaged reputation of an influencer or just simply bad implementation of the campaign. In this blog Hollywood Branded takes a look at 3 examples of global influencer marketing gone wrong and why they received negative results.

Influencer Marketing Gone Bad-1.png

Snickers You're Not You When You're Hungry UK

Sometimes even a well-established campaign can suffer when it is transferred overseas and extra components are added to it. For many years Snickers has leveraged their campaign "You're Not You When You're Hungry" on a global scale. In 2012, when deciding to use social media as a key platform for the campaign in the UK, Snickers enlisted British celebrities including Amir Khan, X Factor contestant Cher Lloyd and cricketer Sir Ian Botham.

However, as some of the examples to come will demonstrate, it’s often hard to avoid a blunder. This is actually one of the more interesting cases of influencer marketing gone wrong in the UK, specifically with the usage of British glamour model Katie Price. The stunt saw Price post many political statements which were out of character compared to her typical entertainment and fashion related tweets. She then ended the set of tweets with a photo with a Snickers bar with the tagline "you’re not you when you’re hungry".

Katie Price-Jordan TweetsRio Ferdinand- Tweets

Although the final posts were tagged #spon it was not clearly seen as a marketing ploy until the very last post thus sparking public outcry. While the other celebrities used presented tweets in a similar manner, the reason Price's followers took the campaign so seriously was the level of her influence in the fashion and entertainment industries -- leading many to believe that her account had been hacked based on the unlikely nature of the tweets presented.

Snickers, Price Partnership

The campaign was then cleared by the UK's Advertising Standards Agency, in the agency's first investigation into influencer marketing. While the company were not fined for the incident the damage was already done with some of Price's followers possibly left with a sour taste for Snickers.

Celebrity Social Media Webinar by Hollywood Branded

PewDiePie: When An Influencer Goes Too Far

With influencer marketing becoming so global, stars do not have to be from the region that they are reaching through their marketing.  In fact, with influencers having such a global reach it is more difficult to confine a campaign to a specific region - all campaigns are now really global in nature unless limited to localized fans using social media tools. While many may think that the most popular English speaking influencers originate from English speaking countries, that is not always the case. In fact one of the most popular influencers in the world was PewDiePie from Sweden.

Which leads us to talk about one of the unfortunate factors of influencer marketing. As the internet is so focused on particular moments in time, it is very easy so something extremely small to have a massive negative impact, especially with the amplification from thousands of vocal social media users. PewDiePie knows all too well how quickly an influencer's reputation can turn sour. 

The YouTuber, born Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellburg, created his account back in 2010 and soon achieved a large following with his video game commentary. Kjellbyrg saw a large gap in the market for video game commentary and began to create his own sub genre of YouTube content. Just two years later, in 2012 Kjellburg managed to attract 1 million subscribers, becoming a sought after influencer in the very new world of social media marketing.

From the early days he was known for stirring controversy, often making sordid commentary and jokes about rape in his videos -- though as his popularity increased he began to refrain from the practice. By the end of 2013 he raked in 19 million subscribers and was at many times the most subscribed YouTube user. He later landed a series on YouTube's Red service and integrated numerous brand partnerships in his content.

Celebrity invite to brand event ebook

However, he would ultimately lose his reputation as a hot ticket YouTuber. In recent years he began to steer away from pure gaming videos which many consider the beginning of his downfall.  His non-gaming videos began to receive widespread criticism at the start of 2017, particularly when he started to use offensive words in his videos, later inspiring the #PewdiepieIsOverParty on Twitter.

The major incident which led to his ultimate downfall saw him laughingly reacting to a sign held by two people he had staged on the side of a road and filmed to see people's reactions, which said "Death To All Jews".  Many viewers rightfully saw this as a major act of anti-semitism and crossing a line so far that no excuse could support the justification.  This resulted in his firing by Disney owned Maker Studios - instantly.   

Pewdiepie Anti Semetic.png

Hollywood Branded Influencer Marketing Survey

The Kendall Jenner Pepsi Controversy

While social media is often the main platform for influencers, social media campaigns can also have negative consequences for the influencer as well. Kendell Jenner's recent partnership with Pepsi fell apart quite quickly due to the nature of social media.

Kendall Jenner Pepsi Ad 1.jpeg

Within just 24 hours the ad protests arose over the ad, which mirrored the real life Black Lives Matter movement and saw Jenner offering a can of Pepsi to a police officer whilst in a multi-cultural crowd of protesters. Many chimed in saying they felt that Pepsi was claiming that it could solve the world's problems all on its own, completely disregarding the current controversy surrounding police treatment of African Americans.

As a result, people's impressions of Pepsi quickly diminished and the campaign proved to have a disastrous effect on the company - and to Kendell.  For at least a blip of a moment in time.   To learn more about it's impact at the time, take a look at our previous blog:  The Kendall Jenner Pepsi Ad Politically Charged Advertisement Backlash.  

Celebrity Endorsement Deal Case Studies That Made Sales Happen Video

How to Use Influencer Marketing For Your Brand

Now that you know some factors of what should be avoided in influencer marketing, why not try it out the right way! Also, be sure to check out these other blogs we wrote on social influencers - they'll help you figure out your best options for success!

Interested in learning the ins and outs of making influencer and celebrity marketing work? Access our full-length videos, transcripts, audio files infographics and more!! Hollywood Branded's Influencer Marketing School advances your influencer marketing game. These courses are for brand and agency marketers to provide insight into how influencer marketing strategies work, and the best practices and strategies to make them do so.

Hollywood Branded Influencer Marketing School


Topics: Social Influencers