The Most Offensive Marketing Pitch Ever? Beheading Labeled ‘Ad Revenue Opportunity’

Slate writer David Plotz is calling a recent email he received the “most offensive marketing pitch of all time.” After reading it ourselves, we’d be hard pressed to disagree.

On Tuesday morning, Plotz received an email from someone at Rightster, a London-based video distribution company, proposing that the recent beheading of a Brazilian soccer referee could prove to be a “great AD REVENUE generating opportunity.”

The email read as follows (bold/caps were in original email):

Sent: Tuesday, July 09, 2013 11:45 AM
To: Plotz, David
Subject: Gruesome Brazilian Beheading Puts Scrutiny on World Cup Host (VIDEO)

Hey David,

Take advantage of this great AD REVENUE generating opportunity by using Newsy’s take on this weekend’s beheading at a Brazilian soccer match, which is just one of several incidents that have some asking if Brazil is ready to host the World Cup. You can access and embed the video by visiting here and registering Slate with an account. Ad revenue opportunities are available as we’ll serve pre-roll across the content and split revenue that is generated.


Disgusted, Plotz attempted to contact the person responsible for the email, but instead received a response from a Rightster spokesperson, saying: “We regret deeply and are very sorry for the email and the offense it has caused. The individual involved will be disciplined and we will review our policies and procedures to ensure this does not happen again.”

This is easily one of the most egregious examples we’ve seen of how marketers losing sight of the humanity in a situation can cause a major PR crisis for a company or brand. Though Rightster’s response is pretty much par-for-the-course in a scenario like this — apologizing, disciplining the offending employee, and promising change — it’s nearly impossible to back-peddle when such blatant insensitivity has been associated with your company.