How to Use Emoticons Professionally in BusinessAdvertising is on the rise, quite an ascension if you look at the numbers. By 2016, it is estimated that ad revenue will double from 2011, hitting over 16.5 billion dollars annually, a 13.7% compounded annual growth. These figures are nothing to sneeze at, and we can learn from the successes and hiccups from 2014 when it comes to our advertising dollars.

No one sets out to fail and everyone wants to succeed, especially when it comes to advertising, but one may never know if something will flop or fly. While the road to a winning ad campaign can be paved with good intentions, it can sometimes fall short in the long run. Looking back at 2014, there were some real champions and a few chumps when it came to running a successful ad campaign.


According to Forbes, Super Bowl advertising, the most expensive slot on television, had a price tag of $4 million dollars last year, and even more surprising, half of people tuning in are watching just to see the commercials. Coca Cola effectively capitalized on this high-priced venue with last year’s “America The Beautiful” piece.

The ad showcased Americans of different cultural backgrounds singing in a number of different languages. After it aired during the game, Coke continued to shine online and explode on Twitter. The soda giant used targeted ads on Facebook to deliver the culturally diverse message to people according to their unique demographic. For those unable to watch the game on TV, it was later posted on YouTube and has over 12 million views.

JCPENNEY: Tanked during the Big Game

JCPenny Twitter

These sloppy Tweets released during the battle between the Seahawks and Broncos, had many people wondering if Penneys needed a designated driver and some questioned whether it was the result of a hack or security breach. JC later admitted it was all in jest and the stunt was a massive failure.

Even with a significant number of retweets, it only continued to send their messy message into the Twitterverse. With many retailers hitting the headlines for data loss and security breaches, this questionable method did little to inspire trust with their brand.


A bit similar to the successful Dove Real Beauty Sketches, Always, purveyors of feminine hygiene products, launched a campaign to inspire adolescent girls to accept who they are and squelch the stereotype of “like a girl” when it comes to running, throwing, hitting, etc. They confront the insulting and self-confidence crushing nature of this remark in this moving piece that has over 53 million views on YouTube and #likeagirl successfully trended across Twitter and Pinterest.

US AIRWAYS: Sends the Wrong Image

In response to a passenger complaining on Twitter about poor service on board one of their flights, a US Airways employee responded by posting a link to a lewd, pornagraphic image.

Even though the airlines eventually apologized, calling the incident a mistake and offered an explanation that they were attempting to flag the image associated with their brand as inappropriate for internal reasons, it was too late, the damage was done.

SAMSUNG: The Selfie Seen Round the World

In a deal with ABC during the Oscars, Samsung put one of their smartphones into the hands of Ellen Degeneres and while this was great television, it also produced some star-studded selfies. The true genius of this gift to one of America’s sweethearts, was that this planned act was in place of a traditional commercial for their product.

When Ellen enticed some of her celebrity friends to join her in a picture, it was specifically meant to break the record for number of retweets and she succeeded in a big way. In just 34 minutes, those celebrity mugs surpassed the one million milestone. The post created so much traffic on Twitter, their servers crashed temporarily and the actual number could have reached much higher during this crescendo. For both Samsung and Ellen, mission accomplished, long after the image left our ubiquitous TV screens.

PILLSBURY: The Wrong Outfit

Some cute and cuddly images, like the Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, shouldn’t be toyed with — would you tell Old Saint Nick that he needed to drop a few pounds or advise the Easter bunny to lose the basket?

We think not, and while reviews are mixed, many viewers of the 2014 holiday message from Pillsbury were displeased when a family offered their signature doughboy a pair of jeans as a Christmas gift. Even the puffy little pastry man looks embarrassed, not once, but twice, during the short, thirty second ad.

In 2015, we will be watching for more flubs and fantastic spots from our favorite retailers and industries from the Super Bowl all the way through to the holiday season.

Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has  contributed articles to, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.