Marketing Fails Part 2 – Australian PR Disasters

Our last post on marketing fails looked at some of the worst marketing ideas and backfires.

Marketing can be complex, but Public Relations can be an even trickier game to play. With marketing you can plan and release a campaign, but PR is ongoing, often off the cuff, and sometimes one slip up can become a media nightmare. It’s all about your interaction with your target audience and the media.

A simple blunder can go viral faster than you can make an innocent, misunderstood comment. Just take a look at some of these Australian PR disasters from recent years.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s “wink”

A Prime Minister that already has a reputation for being sexist, so he’s most likely been advised by his staff to tone it down. After all his verbal blunders it was a simple ‘wink’ on a radio show that set off his critics.

Alan Jones’ inappropriate comments

In 2012 2GB radio shock jock, Alan Jones, inappropriately suggested Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father had “died of shame” in a speech he made at a Sydney University’s Liberal Club dinner. He wasn’t aware there was a journalist in the audience and his comments caused public outrage. Mr Jones eventually held a press conference to apologise for his remarks, but not before major companies like Freedom Furniture, Woolworths and Mercedes Benz pulled all their advertising from the program.

Sarah Murdoch announced the wrong Next Top Model winner

In a live finale, Sarah Murdoch was fed the wrong name and initially announced Kelsey Martinovich as the winner. After she received applause and praise only to be told it was a mistake and the winner was actually Amanda Ware.

Kelsey handled the blunder incredibly well, graciously consoling an embarrassed Sarah Murdoch. To save face for the mix up Foxtel’s director of publicity, Jamie Campbell awarded Kelsey an overseas trip and $25,000.

A costly repair for what came down to two incorrect words.

Have you heard of any other great or costly PR blunders? Let us know in the comments below.

3 responses to “Marketing Fails Part 2 – Australian PR Disasters

  1. Pingback: Marketing Fails – Part 1 » The memery BLOG Social Media Marketing Blog

  2. Joe Grenon

    Australian Marketing, Advertising, News, PR and Sales Fails Big Time due to using old techniques and not adapting to ICT

    If one looks at the article that Marketing Magazine(Australia) came out with ‘How to create a customer-centric culture within your organisation’, it shows that the country still wants to depend on a relationship-building culture.

    This would have been good if Australia was succeeding in Marketing and Sales as relationship-building is also needed but sadly, the country does not do well in many aspects of Marketing and Sales.


    Let’s have a look:
    1) Taking customer-centric area like relationship-building which the country focuses on so much as can be seen under job sites like,,,, Airtasker and many more, Australia doesn’t do so well in the Global Customer Satisfaction Benchmark. According to Zendesk Customer Satisfaction Benchmark, Australia has been falling behind while New Zealand has been beating the country. Also, taking after-sales service amongst vehicle owners alone, Australia does not perform well according to J.D. Asia Pacific 2013. In addition, according to the Brandshare study, brands are failing to build meaningful customer relationships;

    2) Taking the following examples, which are genuine Australian sources, it will show that the Australian organisations do not perform well or adapt fast to various information and communication technologies (And why is it important amongst SMEs? It is important amongst SMEs because SMEs represent more than 99% of businesses within Australia which is why Australia is called a small business nation):
    a) Australian marketers lagging behind in technology
    b) Marketer study warns of skills shortages in digital marketing in Australia
    c) Two-thirds of Australian marketers aren’t effective at digital
    d) Is Australia lagging behind the rest of the world in big data?
    e) 65% of Australian firms lack integrated data management
    f) Australian businesses struggling with cross-channel marketing
    g) Aussie marketers still struggling with single customer view and ROI
    h) Aussie retailers fall behind content marketing trend
    i) Drowning in data: Marketers’ big data complacency
    j) 3 in 10 marketers don’t understand Customer Behaviour
    k) Are Aussie marketers scared of mobile?
    l) Accenture Study: Australian Organisations Lagging in Data Satisfaction
    m) Being left behind by big data: How tech illiteracy can kill small businesses
    n) How Small Business is Missing the Tech Revolution

    In addition to above, Australia ranks low amongst world brands ( of or Interbrand of Omnicom or BrandZ of WPP would show that). Furthermore, Australia ranks low for global start-ups.

    Lastly, Australia ranks low on Alexa and Socialbakers in comparison to US, UK, China, India, Philippines, Thailand and many more.


    Is the answer due to the fear in change or the fear in Sciences including Mathematics and Technology or is it a combination of both?

    Taking the following examples, which are genuine Australian sources, it will show that the Australians lack Science skills including Mathematics and ICT while Aussie marketers, journalists, advertisers, PR and sales personnel including leaders and managers lack analytical skills, good reading habits, innovative skills and many more:
    1) Google chief warns of skills shortages
    2) From clever to complacent: Australia falling behind on innovation, says chief scientist
    3) OECD report finds Australian students falling behind
    4) Australian women lag behind men in numeracy skills: ABS
    5) Two-thirds of Australian businesses aren’t prepared for 2020′s workforce
    6) Alarming lack of workplace training opportunities in Australia
    7) Growing fear of outsourcing in IT sector
    8) Online hiring – Australian businesses lead the world
    9) Traditional marketers thinking that the new types of marketing are nearly similar to the old types of marketing when they are not (outbound or traditional marketing techniques not similar to inbound or new marketing techniques and integrated marketing). Also, inbound marketing takes time
    10) Aussies spend big on technology, but don’t know how to use it
    11) Fear of the computer nerd is leaving gaping hole in Australia’s $36 billion IT industry
    12) If Australia Could Get Over Its ‘Fear of Failure’ Tech Startup Firms Could Contribute $109B to Economy by 2033, Create 540,000 New Jobs – Google Study
    13) Australia behind in teaching kids startup skills
    14) Australian workplaces need much better leaders and managers

    Additionally, many of its innovative firms have left for US, UK and some of the Asian nations which includes Atlassian that left for UK (Atlassian is one of Australia’s leading start-ups).

    This has eventually led to Australia depending on foreigners for its survival. If one looks at it, out of the top 2000 Australian firms, 700 or so are foreign owned which includes BHP with 75% foreign ownership, Rio – 85%, Xstrata 100% and so on. And this continues with brands where 85% of the products within a supermarket trolley are either from an imported country or from a foreign owned company. The same has slowly started occurring with Australian properties including farmlands.

    Even export wise, Australia’s 4th largest export sector after iron ore, gold and coal happens to be the tertiary education where it gets most of its revenue from international students. That includes the housing where international students are cash cows.

    Thus, will Australia be able to change its complacent, laid back style or would it become part of some other nation?


  3. Pingback: Worst Marketing Fails Ever » memery Marketing Blog

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