Seriously, That’s Not Funny!

When it comes to media, everyone wants to crack the code and discover the next big trend. Businesses want to engage so tightly to consumers that at times it can become ridiculous.  Companies want to reach into the “now” so bad that they overstep boundaries. In this day and age it is so easy for an advertisement, campaign, tweet or post to be taken out of context. Tactics that were meant to be funny turn into failure. For example, the breakfast chain, IHOP, did not succeed with sarcasm.

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This tweet failed. Many women did not appreciate the underlying reference to “flat-chested” women. IHOP could have stopped this failure if it paid attention to the fact that embracing body-image is what is popular today.

The result of comical media is something that marketers must pay attention to. In the world of copy & paste and screenshots, one wrong picture or tweet can really jeopardize the success of a campaign. You know the saying, “Once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever”.


7 thoughts on “Seriously, That’s Not Funny!

  1. Hi Cecily!

    This is a great example of marketing gone wrong. You bring up valid points about how marketers need to pay attention to what consumers think, feel, and how they may react. Body image is a huge topic of discussion in society. People are taking a stand to silence body shaming. One of my favorites is the #AerieReal campaign and Mattel’s evolution of Barbie. What are your thoughts on these campaigns?


    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make a good point that IHOP really missed the mark but not only insulting women, but also missing the message of embracing one’s body that is so prevalent in today’s society. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty is one that can be added to the list of successful body image campaigns.


  2. I believe part of the problem with the social media front-ends of business is there is a pressure to be edgy and attention grabbing, but it’s far too easy to cross the line into crass and tasteless. Also when broadcasting to such a wide variety of people, the line between offensive and funny varies wildly from person to person. Something similar happened just last month with the Social Media manager of the Houston Rockets after he tweeted an aggressive comment after they eliminated the Dallas Mavericks from the NBA playoffs:


  3. Cecily,

    I agree that I-Hop made a very inappropriate post that could be upsetting to a lot of people. If you are a business looking to expand engagement, utilizing humor can be a powerful tactic. But, it should not be offensive; because, as you have asserted, it can backfire. There are tons of funny tweets that could engage followers other than offending women. I would use humor that reflects reality. Such as, you’re hungry at night and we are open – #ProblemSolved. Then show someone eating a ton of food with friends at night, packed in a booth.


  4. As all of the others have said, I believe there are certain things that are funny in marketing and others that are inappropriate. This particular piece of marketing is definitely inappropriate and may have gotten in the way of potentially great marketing campaign. The question that I have is where is the line drawn on how much value we put on the comments or beliefs of an eatery or any other business that is trying to be funny or has an opinion? A great example is Chic fil A. Most know of their unapologetic believes towards those that are gay, however, I can honestly say that if I’m taking morality advice from a fast food chicken establishment, there may be more problems with me than them.


  5. This is a solid case of understanding your audience. However, do you think this may shed light into the benefit of having strategic social media? Sometimes I think social media includes mishaps because it is too much “on a whim.” To me, someone with experience should have foreseen the backlash IHOP would receive. I hope they learned a lesson!


  6. Very good observation Cecily. I think something similar happened with McDonald’s and their hashtag-gone-wrong a few years ago. I think it was #McDStories or something like that. Check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

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