A Compilation of the Worst Marketing Campaigns the Internet has to Offer

Filling the blank slate of our information superhighway with garbage, one ad at a time

You won’t be thinking, “Maybe it’s Maybelline” anytime soon. You might be thinking it’s ethically dubious to run these campaigns, however. You might even be thinking whether anybody else sees what you are seeing.

Over the last decade of internet surfing, I have come across my fair share of heavily targeted ads that I am a victim of. It seems that, over these last few years, some demographics are so heavily targeted that they don’t get to see anything else except for the same repeated trash over and over again.

It’s only fair that we showcase how hilariously bad they are here.

Hi Kyle Dennis, or is it Dyle Kennis? Can we please get the story straight?

Source: Yahoo! front page.

I find these marketing campaigns for The Raging Bull offered on Quora and on Yahoo!. They’re awful because they are on literally every single page on Quora and they are always on the Yahoo! front page whenever I find myself there. But they’re not awful because they’re everywhere.

They’re awful because the story and the numbers are always changed.

Source: Quora advert on a question.

I’m not sure, but if he is talking about the same $2.8 million he made in both, I feel like he should have made up his mind.

Was it on your lunch break or was it at home?

Why does it feel like a third-grader slapped some strange background in both pictures?

A better question: How is this not fraud?

Someone should let Dyle Kennis know that the Federal Trade Commission has already sent one of these companies to a federal court in California for doing something very similar.

X hates him

Iteration of any version of this meme.

This meme has existed throughout time. Whether it’s Mike Pence on the cover, or some cartoon, or Santa Claus.

Replace nutritionists with real estate agents, doctors, dentists, landlords, governments, hackers, etc. It works every time, and it has the same hilarious effect.

It’s awful in the funniest of ways, and its evolution has existed in every crevice of the internet for the last decade now.

The headscratcher

I found this strip of ads on CNN one day:

Source: CNN news piece.

Most of these are strange. There is one, however, that makes absolutely no sense.

Source: CNN news piece.

My relative would love me if I show them anything, actually. Because if my relative was blind, and isn’t blind anymore, that’s actually fabulous. But if my relative continues to be blind when I show them whatever I am about to, then my relative won’t be able to see what I’m showing them.

Because they are blind.

Is the woman in the ad supposed to be blind? Because she’s doing a bad job at it. Do iPads have magical powers to cure blindness?

A call to action or clickbait?

I probably have the least idea about these. I’ve never clicked on them to even know what they’re selling, but I’m certain that it works for the marketers. Otherwise, the ad itself wouldn’t exist.

There are so many versions of the “do this thing immediately” or the “do it yourself cure” that I couldn’t catch them all or document it chronologically.

This is an extension of the first set of marketing campaigns, where you’re likely glued to figuring out what the heck is going on rather than have any actual interest in doing what they are saying.

Either way, it has caught your attention because it’s super strange (and awful).

Nobody is going to fact-check, no worries

Source: Yahoo! front page.

The Motley Fool is infamous for its scammy looking advertisements.

It’s any iteration of “This stock could be like buying Amazon in 1997”.

Source: Chart courtesy of stockcharts.com. Amazon’s stock price, 1997 to 2002.

Among the many things wrong and bad about this message is that it completely neglects the fact that Amazon nearly went bankrupt at the trough of the dot-com bubble. Their savior was an accidental loan the CFO had borrowed from European investors months before the Nasdaq completely tanked.

Don’t let David Gardner know, though.

These ads service the lowest hanging fruit and rest on the lowest common denominator of marketing genius. In fact, I wouldn’t call it marketing at all. Anyone could do a stock screen on a brokerage service to figure out which companies went up 50,000% over the last 10 to 20 years, and then run a marketing campaign that you predicted the companies epic rally.

In fact, if you invested a few dollars into that company, you could easily say you predicted that rise.

The problem with any of these advertisements is that, while they’re obnoxious, they garner an underbelly of subscribers who buy into the idea of pumping a stock over many years. They’re using hindsight as foresight.

Anything Motley recommends will be pumped through its subscriber base. Even though Motley Fool discloses that they don’t have holdings in the companies they are writing articles about, that doesn’t mean anybody else can’t be accessing their data and riding the wave.

The problem with any of these advertisements is that the insider trading is nearly impossible because the idea of a disclosure at the bottom of the page is seen as enough to the SEC to not violate any rules.

Source: Motley’s own disclosure blurb at the end of a landing page.

Apparently, the SEC finds that to be enough. The rest of the anti-fraud measure is simply on good faith.

That’s a great regulatory perspective, I suppose.

For the record, nothing ever needed to be the next Amazon in the last 20 years. Pretty much any money thrown in any company on the Nasdaq would have generated massive gains in the last decade or so.

Written by

UC Berkeley, mathematics. Los Angeles. Long-time runner. Top writer on Quora, 100M+ total content views. New to Medium. Inquiries: Moumj@berkeley.edu

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