9 movie campaigns that badly backfired

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Today we reported on one of the worst marketing gaffes in recent times with the new Snow White movie’s offensive billboards, and so let’s look back at some other movie marketing campaigns to have backfired…

1) Snow White’s “appalling” Poster

We’ll begin with the aforementioned and arguably the worst of them all. The new poster for kid’s animation, Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarfs was spotted at this year’s Cannes, and it’s hard to think how it made its way into the public eye. Many have complained over its insulting slogan and body-shaming artwork. See it below:

At least Chloë Grace Moretz, who voices Snow White in the movie, was quick to respond, showing her disapproval for the “appalling” ad on Twitter:

Locus Corp, the studio behind the poster, have since apologized.

2) Ghost in the Shell Meme Maker madness

Earlier this year, Paramount Pictures’ online campaign for Ghost in the Shell went viral for the wrong reasons. The film was criticized by many for its whitewashing with the casting of Scarlett Johansson as The Major.

Paramount set up the website IAmMajor.me which allowed users to upload photos of themselves along with a caption. However, the campaign backfired as fans used the meme generator to voice their anger at not casting a Japanese actor:

The controversy surrounding the casting was thought to be one of the major factor’s in the film flopping at the box office.

3) Controversial costume from Disney’s Moana

Disney’s Moana splashed into screens last year and was generally a success, however the studio did take some stick for releasing a play suit from the film which was slammed for cultural appropriation.

The costume replicated the outfit worn by Maui in the film, the demi-god, voiced by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, but offended the Maori people:

Disney were forced to pull the outfit from their stores.

4) Revenge of the Toy

When the official Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys hit shelves, there was one major absence, Daisy Ridley’s Rey. She was left out in favor of John Boyega’s Finn and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, because Disney thought boys wouldn’t want a “girl toy.” It caused a backlash amongst many fans, and even the director JJ Abrams wasn’t happy about it, especially after Rey’s absence from the Force Awakens Monopoly game.

However, as petitions were formed and protests gathered pace, Disney eventually released the toy which sold extremely well, thanks to its media coverage.

5) The Force Awakens racist poster?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a diverse cast, but China’s poster for the movie raised a few eyebrows.

The poster was similar in style to the US version, but take a look at them both (below) and you will notice that John Boyega was shrunk by over 50% and barely visible:

6) 12 Years a Slave poster problems

More poster controversy here as the Italian artwork for Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave was also branded racist. The posters featured Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in large, despite their smaller roles to the film’s lead, Chiwetel Ejiofor. The Italian distributor of the film ended up apologizing for the posters and withdrew them immediately.

7) Offending Sarah Marshall

Forgetting Sarah Marshall entertained us in 2008, but its ad campaign actually offended a certain number of people. Universal had a creative way of promoting the movie by placing several posters around the US, that consisted of phrases like “You suck, Sarah Marshall” and “My mom always hated you, Sarah Marshall.” It seemed harmless to many, unless your name was Sarah Marshall, and as it’s quite a common name, many Sarah Marshall’s around the country were not happy over the posters.

But the Sarah Marshall’s got their revenge as they directed their own insulting posters towards the film’s helmer, Judd Apatow:

8) Mission Impossible bomb scare

A newspaper promotion for Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible III went horribly wrong in 2006 when a county arson squad blew up a news rack, thinking it contained a bomb.

The film’s marketing team thought it’d be a good idea to fit a Los Angeles Times rack with a digital musical device that plays the Mission: Impossible theme song when the door opens. But in some cases, the red plastic boxes with protruding wires were loose and alarmed customers, causing a quite embarrassing bomb scare.

9) E.T. funny Finger Light

Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a classic and merchandise from the film remains popular. But when this official “finger light” toy was released, it raised questions with many mistaking it for an adult toy. It was unsurprisingly withdrawn from stores, but still going on Ebay. One thing’s for sure though, it’s not for kids!

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