From passengers getting dragged out of an airplane, to a soft drink that solves social issues. This year we have had it all and thanks to the Internet everyone not only knows about it immediately, but also can comment and share their feelings. When such incidents spread widely, it becomes a nightmare for the particular brand. Let’s first have a look at the most memorable social media fails of 2017 so far.

The one that probably no one missed was when United Airlines dragged an Asian-American man violently off a plane to give his seat to a crew member. Of course people on the plane filmed the whole accident and posted the video on YouTube and Facebook where the clip went viral. It was watched over 5 million times on YouTube and people reacted to it in the funniest ways.


The second greatest corporate social media fail this year, which I’m sure you’ve heard of is from Pepsi. When they released a commercial featuring people of every gender, shape, and color enjoying ice cold Pepsi to show how #woke they are. Yet, they overstepped it by having social media star Kendall Jenner creating peace between police and protesters by offering the cops a Pepsi. Of course people reacted to this insane idea on social media.

These two examples where obviously two companies not acting according to the understanding of social and cultural norms. However Dove, who is known for its cultural sensibility (“real beauty” – campaign) now created a new campaign offering customers a limited-edition of six different body wash bottles who are representing the diversity of woman’s body. The containers are curvy, skinny or hilariously pear shaped. This campaign has been seen very critically on the Internet. Even though many believe it was a great idea, the majority criticized the way Dove executed this idea. Is every woman now supposed to pick the bottle that most closely aligns with their own body shape? Is okay, if a skinny woman chooses a round bottle? Well, for sure people reacted to it on social media networks.

All of these events would have never been viewed so widely if it wasn’t for the Internet. Nowadays, when a brand makes a mistake it may receive backlash from millions of people around the world.  All these comments and shares on social media made the incidents go viral. When people react to it by creating their own pictures and more content, the effect even multiplies. In the three examples mentioned above, the reaction of people was obviously not in favor of the brands, but it can also be the other way around. The best example of 2017 would be Salt Bae. Chef Nusret Gökce went viral with his video adding salt to raw meat in an artistic way. This led to great attention to his chain of Turkish steak houses.

In conclusion it can be said that marketers will never be able to control which content goes viral and which not. They can only try to lead it in a favorable direction. And for sure people will always continue to react, create, share and comment their own opinions.

Written by Meike Behrens