The Drum's New Year Honours: Brands we noticed for the wrong reasons – featuring Uber and Tesco

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By The Drum Team | Editorial

January 1, 2015 | 3 min read

Over the course of a week, The Drum is revealing its pick of brands, campaigns, work and individuals who have made an impact over 2014.

Here we take a look at a few brands that have caught our attention for the wrong reasons.

Brand to watch for the wrong reasons: Uber

The taxi app is reeling from a series of PR nightmares including bad behaviour from drivers, which has seen it banned in several cities. One of its senior execs was caught publicly suggesting the company hire a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on hostile journalists, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, the company was heavily criticised for spiking fares during the recent cafe siege in Sydney. The overall impression is of a brand that is fighting fires; reacting to events rather than driving them.

Brand disaster: Tesco

Tesco has been well and truly dragged through the wringer this year after confessing it overstated its profits by an eye-watering £250m. The supermarket’s trading position had been dismal in the earlier part of the year, leading to the hasty exit of boss Philip Clarke, while his replacement David Lewis was parachuted in early to mop up the mess.

Not long afterwards the unfortunate Lewis was forced to deal with the profits overstating scandal, which wiped £2bn off its overall value. As the saying goes, once you hit rock bottom the only way is up…perhaps 2015 will prove a kinder year for the supermarket.

Biggest missed opportunity for brands: The World Cup

Several brand sponsors struggled to make a connection between their products and football during the biggest marketing opportunity of the year. Coca-Cola saw its profits slip, while the Gol! app created by McDonald’s fell flat on its face. Sony missed the opportunity to promote Xperia as the official World Cup smartphone outside of print, and Emirates made the strange choice of having its flight attendants hand out medals at the closing ceremony, much to the Twittersphere’s dismay.

The World Cup was the most talked about event in the history of social media, with over 280m Facebook interactions and a record 618,725 tweets in a single minute when Germany conquered Argentina. Yet some brands wasted that opportunity by posting misguided tweets that ultimately backlashed (ahem… Delta, Visa, KLM).

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