The “Naughty and Nice” List - The Best and the Worst of 2016 & Trends for 2017

It’s that time of year again. Top 10 lists of anything and everything will be posted, talked about and debated.  At InfinityComm we’re not about “10” of anything. That is so 2015. We like to keep it simple: “Top 3” is where it's at.  Top 3 blunders, Top 3 Honourable blunder mentions and “Top 3” spectacular campaigns of 2016.

“In 2017, we will continue to see content related to real people and their stories. It’s no coincidence that the top three campaigns that we chose all fit into this category. In digital and social media we are going to continue to see huge growth in the use of Influencer marketing,” said Leanne Bucaro, CEO of InfinityComm. 

The good, the bad and the ugly of 2016: nothing goes unnoticed. Below you’ll find our “Fails” and our “Wins”, divided into: “Naughty” and “Nice”.

 Note: We have definitely and purposefully not included anything related to the US election. It’s overdone.  


1.) Mattress Store (dis)Honours 9/11: “What Better Way to Remember 9/11 Then With a Twin Towers Sale?” 

Really? Do we even need to say why this made our #1 naughty spot?  When it comes to sales gimmicks, any representation of the Twin Towers falling, reference to 9/11 or even thinking of anything to do with 9/11 will come with backlash 100% of the time.        

What would we have done differently? Everything! It’s never a good idea to memorialize a terrorist attack with a retail gimmick. This Texas mattress store is now set to close due to the amount of backlash and death threats they’ve received. 

Lesson: Just because anyone can create content, doesn’t mean they “should”. Leave it to the professionals. At the very least, you’ll have someone to blame.

 2.) Modelling Agency for OshKosh B’Gosh Snub a baby boy

A modelling agency denied 18-month-old Asher Nash a chance to appear in an upcoming advertisement for children’s clothing line OshKosh B’Gosh because he had Down Syndrome. The child’s mother followed up with the modelling agency and their response was that the photos were never submitted because they did not specifically ask for ‘special-needs’ children for the campaign. The modelling agency really stepped in “it” when this went viral.

We are happy to mention that this had nothing to do with the views or standards of OshKosh B’Gosh.  Asher will appear in their spring 2017 ad campaign. We’re happy for Asher (he is adorable) and his mom.

Lesson: Never underestimate the power of social media and how quickly an unjust act will go viral. It's never acceptable to discriminate and it's certainly never advisable to discriminate on behalf of a client.

3.) Text and Drive Billboard is Unethical Marketing

Ethical advertising, where is the line? A billboard along the Gardiner Expressway stated in big text “Text and drive”.  The brand name behind the billboard was a fake funeral home.  The small print gave a website.

What’s next? Say yes to drugs? No means yes? Drink and drive? 

It's never okay to say text and drive.  It is out of context and not in medium that someone can pay a lot of attention to the nuance of the message.  Our kids are passengers in our cars – and seeing that message. For the full “rant”, our CEO Leanne Bucaro goes into more detail.

What would we have done differently? Not model negative behaviour! As marketers, we have a responsibility to create content that not only gets attention in an eight second window, but models positive behaviour for the social good.

Lesson: Such advertising campaigns might get attention, but it’s sending the wrong message. Think about how your campaign is being viewed by all audiences and what the impact will be if it goes without explanation.

The Naughty List – Top 3 Honourable Mentions:

1.) A tweet gone wrong – Whoopi Goldberg gets mistaken as Oprah Winfrey during the Oscars. ‘Whoops.’

Fashion blog Total Beauty made the mistake of referring to Whoopi Goldberg as Oprah Winfrey by tweeting a picture of Whoopi Goldberg saying, “We had no idea Oprah was tatted, and we love it!” A great reminder that you should always think before you post and always have your facts straight!                          


2.) Bono wins one of Glamour’s “Women of the Year” awards. Because … why not?

Okay, we love Bono as much as the next gal… but really? Glamour states that they were doing it to show that gender does not matter. This caused massive backlash on social media. To avoid this blunder, Glamour should have changed the name of the award, or at the very least, notify people in advance that this year they plan on changing the rules.


3.) implying that freckles and red hair are imperfections.

Match’s #LoveYourImperfections ad campaign didn’t exactly go well with a lot of people… especially those with red hair. After many angry and some hilariously sarcastic social media posts, took down all of their advertisements.


NICE LIST: Content We Love!

1.) Sick Kids VS Campaign

Soup to nuts this campaign rocks it on all fronts (content, messaging, engagement). It inspires us, it makes us think, it shows us that everyday it takes an army to fight for our kids and every day is a battle worth fighting. And we thank them. Kudos to the marketing team at Sick Kids and Cossette (their agency) for this campaign.  Equally amazing is the “Sick Kids VS Missing Home” (at Christmas) video with the giant cookie.  We all saw sugarplums dancing in our head on this one.  This campaign has a high ‘goose bump’ factor and we love it.

Our only problem with this campaign: We weren’t behind it!  

Sick Kids VS Undeniable: 


2.) WestJet Christmas Miracle for Fort McMurray Residents

We love acts of kindness. WestJet with their Christmas Miracle, for the residents of Fort McMurray scored high marks in our book.  After the devastating year that many have faced due to the wildfires in Alberta, WestJet hosted a Snowflake Soiree in Fort McMurray. Residents were welcome to come and enjoy some Christmas cheer.. 

Who doesn’t love watching deserving families experience some Christmas magic?


3.) Canadian Women’s Foundation Created the #GirlPowered Campaign for Girls by Girls

We could all use a little more positivity in our lives and this campaign shines with positive vibes. Girl Powered is an integrated campaign allowing girls to share empowering messages with one another. A refreshing approach considering it’s no surprise that every day girls are bombarded with negative stereotypes on how they should look, feel and think.


“Our voting system is unaudited and untraceable.  In fact most of it happens inside our heads.  We simply ask ourselves, “What would Santa do?” commented Leanne Bucaro, CEO of InfinityComm.  “Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year from all of us to you and your family.”