40 Bizarre Yet Fascinating Ad and Marketing Campaigns

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1 Tab Clear

Tab Clear

When Crystal Pepsi was released, Coca-Cola released a competitor called Tab Clear, however, Tab Clear was intentionally marketed poorly in order to hurt Crystal Pepsi’s image by product association. The “born to die” strategy was successful and both campaigns were dead 6 months later.

2. Bacon and eggs were not considered breakfast foods until the 1920s when Sigmund Freud’s nephew was hired by a packing company to create a marketing campaign to increase bacon sales.

3. When Coke marketed their Dasani brand of water in the UK in 2004 it was a PR disaster because they referred to it as “bottled spunk” and used the slogan “can’t live without spunk” not realizing “spunk” was a slang word for semen in UK.

4. The recommendation to see a dentist every 6 months was not based on any evidence. It just stuck after a 1930s Pepsodent ad campaign.

5. Because of a surplus of whole milk and milk fat, the USDA has worked with restaurants to expand their menus with cheese-laden products, including paying for a $12 million marketing campaign for Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40% more cheese.

6 Listerine mouthwash

Listerine mouthwash

A Listerine mouthwash ad from the 1920s coined the phrase, “Often a bridesmaid but never a bride” to describe women with bad breath.

7. The “Share a Coke” campaign where Coca-Cola replaced its name on bottles with people’s first names, increased Coca-Cola’s U.S. sales by more than 2% and, in doing so, helped reverse more than 10 years of decline in Coke consumption in the U.S.

8. For April Fools Day in 1998, Burger King took out a full-page ad in USA Today introducing a Whopper designed especially for lefties. The new burger would contain the same ingredients as the original but rotated 180°. Thousands of customers swarmed BK restaurants requesting the “lefty” Whopper.

9. On 1st April 1996, Taco Bell spent $300,000 on ads claiming that they purchased the Liberty Bell and named it Taco Liberty Bell, and achieved $25 million in free publicity. The White House Press Secretary got on the joke, saying the Lincoln Memorial was turned by Ford into Lincoln-Mercury Memorial.

10. In 2018, Ikea ran a print advert which had a very unique technology. It gave 50% discounts, if you urinated on it and were found to be pregnant, for a crib.

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11 Where’s Herb?

Where's Herb?

Burger King launched a $40 million ad campaign in November 1985 called “Where’s Herb?” The idea was to find a character named Herb who’d never been to BK. Other chains pointed out that if Herb wasn’t at BK, it meant he probably liked other chains’ burgers more. Burger King’s profits fell by 40% in 1986.

12. Japan’s love of salmon as a sushi staple is a result of a successful Norwegian marketing campaign in 1986. Raw salmon sushi wasn’t consumed in Japan before that because the Pacific salmon had parasites.

13. In 2012, the advertising campaign for a UK energy drink called “Pussy” was banned as sexually explicit and offensive. Pussy energy drink ad slogan was: “The drink’s pure, it’s your mind that’s the problem.”

14. Fiji Water once ran an ad campaign stating “The label says Fiji because it’s not bottled in Cleveland”. The city of Cleaveland responded by testing both Fiji water and their own tap water. They found 6.3 micrograms of arsenic in Fiji water, and none on their own.

15. We pair orange juice with breakfast due to a marketing campaign by Albert Lasker (known for Lucky Strike) to save the struggling citrus industry. He convinced American housewives not only to buy oranges, but to make juice with them by hand, and to buy the juicers needed to make it.

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16 The Noid

The Noid

In the 1980s, Dominos Pizza had a campaign centered around “The Noid”. It was discontinued in 1989 after a mentally ill man named Kenneth Noid took Dominos Pizza workers hostage after he thought the ads were a personal attack on him.

17. In 2012, Dunkin’ Donuts launched an ad campaign in Seoul, Korea where scent spray devices installed on buses would release a fragrant coffee aroma when triggered by the sound of the DD radio jingle. The campaign reached more than 350,000 people, and sales near the bus stop increased by 29%.

18. The diamond engagement ring fever was invented by an ad campaign in the 1930s. Before that few Americans proposed with the precious stone, and the price of diamond was falling.

19. In 2006, M&Ms created an ad campaign offering 2 million dark chocolate M&Ms for the one who returns “The Scream” (a famous painting that was stolen just two years prior in Norway). Just days after the campaign, the painting was found by the Norwegian Police.

20. In 2009, Burger King launched a campaign that if you unfriended 10 friends on Facebook you were entitled to a free whopper. The ex-friend would receive a message explaining that their friendship was less valuable than a whopper.

15 Most Controversial & Costly Blunders in History

21 Breakfast


Breakfast wasn’t regarded as the most important meal of the day until an aggressive marketing campaign by General Mills in 1944. They would hand out leaflets to grocery store shoppers urging them to eat breakfast, while similar ads would play on the radio.

22. MTV would have folded in 1983 if Mick Jagger hadn’t agreed to say, “I Want My MTV” in front of a camera and allowed it to be used in MTV’s iconic “I Want My MTV” ad campaign. That ad campaign saved the network from ruin.

23. The “Live Better Electrically” Gold Medallion program was one of the most effective marketing campaigns of all time. As the cost of electricity decreased in the 1950s, General Electric and Westinghouse sponsored a marketing campaign to promote electric appliances. Medallions were awarded to electrified homes.

24. Reebok’s first major ad campaign featured two obscure decathletes. They were featured in several Super Bowl ads in 1991. The ads pitted them to see who was the world’s greatest athlete and who would win the Olympic title. After being made superstars, one failed to qualify and the other got bronze.

25. The idea that walking 10,000 steps a day is best for your health has no basis in science but instead started as a marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer (Manpo-kei, “10,000 step meter”), released after the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. The 10,000 number was selected because it sounded good.

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