10 More Dumb MLK Day Marketing Posts


Yesterday our own Shawn Paul Wood provided you with a few good examples of terrible marketing ostensibly created to “honor” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his own day.

As Arik Hanson notes in a well-considered post today, quite a few brands like Starbucks, Delta, Google and Macy’s did their jobs well by keeping it sober and respectful, because it’s really that simple. Here’s a good one from JetBlue:

On the other hand, some social media copywriters learned nothing from Hennessy’s poorly worded pitch, and we’d like to share some more of them with you because that’s how we do it…

We’ll start with Twitter’s biggest user, who isn’t quite a marketer but still felt the need to use someone else’s day to bring all the attention back where it belongs.

10. Justin Bieber

This quote choice makes sense, because fighting against centuries of systemic racism is almost exactly like when people claim that you and your boys got really high and egged your neighbor’s house.

9. U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command

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This one went out several days ago and the organization quickly apologized. We wouldn’t really call it a “joke” but it’s probably the most obviously inappropriate message on this list for reasons too obvious to mention.

8. PornHub


No explanation needed here. Excuse us while we shake our heads profusely.

7. Hats.com

Right. Wait, why would we do that?

6. Dow Chemical

On message, but are you guys sure you’re the best company to ask this question?

5. Krazy Glue

Oh haha. He said “stick.”

4. Global Village Duluth

This Minnesota store easily wins for most awkwardly themed campaign:

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The store’s social manager has since posted an apology, clarifying that “This was not inspired, as some have suggested, by the history of blacks being sold into slavery…It was inspired by the fact that Dr. Martin Luther King was black.”

Well, duh.

3. ZzzQuil

We’ll include this one because it upset enough people to merit its own Mashable post. But it feels pretty tame to us.


We love puppies and all, but tying civil rights to animal rights (and donate to our organization while you’re at it!) is a huge stretch. Not that we should be surprised or anything.

1. Sarah Palin

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The world’s best-paid blog troll/self-promoter would never see such an historic occasion as yet another opportunity to get Americans pissed off at other Americans (most of whom exist only in their own furiously paranoid minds). Only the guy who unfortunately helped make her relevant would be shameless enough to do something like that. Get it?

As for what this statement means (she was unclear), surely the former half-term governor realizes that the most effective way to play “the race card” is to use the phrase itself.

If you’ve already read a bunch of these lists, we’ll pre-emptively agree with you in your annoyance: the Internet outrage cycle gets old pretty quickly and most of these “brands” will be just fine. We also understand all too well how difficult it can be to write “topical” stuff promoting your clients.

But the lesson here is simple: if you’re marketing on such a somber day, keep your message reverent and low-key and please, for your own sake, don’t try to tie it directly to the products you sell!

(H/T to BuzzFeed, Social News Daily, UnMarketingThe Guardian, BetaBeat and USA Today)