The Top 15 PR Fails of 2015

And fail these brands and people did.

This year was one for the PR and crisis communications books.

For brands and individuals that thought they had a chance to escape the ire of the public, social media made sure no one forgot about their various blunders.

While we could scroll into perpetuity on one post, we chose the top 15 public relations fails of 2015 for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and share.

15. AT&T Calls Up Some Racism.

att racismAaron Slator had a cushy gig once upon a time. Back in the spring, Slator was president of content & ad sales for AT&T, as well as head of U-Verse. He enjoyed free data, Internet service, and the occasional pay-per-view.

The one thing many didn’t know is that he wanted to be a comedian, because he threw out this meme to a friend thinking no one would see it, until his assistant was asked to transfer data from his old phone to his new one.

She came across this offensive image, sued AT&T for racial discrimination because the brass knew about the meme (and the bigotry) and did nothing, was laughed out of court for the amount of $100 million, and Slator rightfully was shown the door.

14. Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis Not Being en Vogue.

fashionistaVogue’s Style editor in chief has a name — and a personality — only a mother could love. Her name is Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis. Yes, that’s real. And that’s the short version from Elisabeth Margarethe Maria Anna Beatriz Prinzessin von Thurn und Taxis. 

Anyway, the lady, who is accustomed to the finer things in life, found some humor in a homeless man perusing her publication in Paris. Her brilliant quip of pretension and bitchiness caused Vogue to get pelted with Twitter hate.

Of course, Ms. Thurn und Taxis sent another gram extending her sincerest apologies for the offense her post has caused. However, we’d bet her salary that she hasn’t given a donation to the Salvation Army recently.

13. Tinder’s Back Door Issue.

Tinder-SodomyThe dating app Tinder has never really had a fair shake in the media. It has long been considered the anti-relationship app where hook-ups are welcomed. One would expect a surly reputation like that would attract a peculiar kind of person. Sean Rad was one such CEO, who eventually found himself on the outside of Tinder.

He proves why talking points are necessary in this business. The flash of the cameras. The brightness of the lights. The perfume of the reporter. Any number of things can be distracting to a spokesperson. Rad’s problem? He’s a douchebag. He did an interview explaining why he was once let go from Tinder for sexual harassment. Evidently, dude was addicted to his own creation… and then he said this:

“Apparently there’s a term for someone who gets turned on by intellectual stuff. You know, just talking. What’s the word? I want to say ‘sodomy’?”

 Yeah, that one hurt a little, bruh.

12. Seattle Seahawks New QB: MLK Jr.?!

mlk day seattleThe problem with fans and marketing departments of professional sports teams is that they have the uncanny ability to believe their athletes are more than boys and girls who get paid ghastly amounts of money to play around with a ball.

The Seattle Seahawks are like that, as seen in the press last January. Despite many pundits saying it wasn’t possible, the team made it to its second straight Super Bowl. Woohoo! It could have been called a victory, a celebration, even a triumph. But does it compare with the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King? No. No it does not.

MEMO to Seattle: Next time you want to quote a civil rights leader and compare him to your quarterback, maybe just don’t.