Saying the wrong thing has killed more advertising campaigns than reaching the wrong people.

The silent serial killer.

History is rife with advertising campaigns that turned belly-up due to unintentional verbal blunders rather than audience-targeting mishaps. The impact of a misguided message can be devastating, leading to public backlash and even damaging a company’s reputation.

Dead on arrival.

I can recall a classic illustration of a campaign that got lost in translation. In the late 1970s (I was 13), Chevrolet introduced the U.S.’s top-selling Nova in Latin American markets. The problem? In Spanish, “no va” translates to “it doesn’t go.” It’s easy to see how this might deter potential buyers. Chevrolet eventually resolved the issue, but only after experiencing an initial dip in sales.

Not all skin and bones. 

If reaching the right people is the bones of an ad campaign, and saying the right thing is the skin, in between is the muscle: the brand—business philosophies, pain-solving solutions, and delivery promises that are strong in values. This is the embodiment of Communicreation℠. 

The anatomy of a successful advertising campaign:

  • Skin: The Message—Language and aesthetics that attract your audience.
  • Bones: The Audience—Identifying your audience is the framework.
  • Muscle: The Values—Understanding what moves your audience.  

Just as a healthy body operates optimally when all its parts work harmoniously, a well-executed marketing campaign thrives when these elements are in sync. 

Have your own advertising horror story? Let’s chat. 


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