Billboard fails (like seriously bad fails) and today’s exemplars

Billboards are the McMansions of advertising, and they’re awful for two reasons. One, they can obstruct the beauty of the built world. Two (and this is the main reason), more often than not the creative work is crap. Here’s one I’ve driven past recently in my hometown:

Turning a PR nightmare into the greatest apology in the history of advertising

In 2018, KFC changed their logistics supplier and had a nationwide chicken shortage due to some processing error on the part of the new company. It led to over 400 outlets closing and a horde of abuse from angry, fried-chicken addicts.

In response, the company hired the famed agency Mother that proceeded to turn a PR crisis into the greatest apology in the history of advertising.

The ad was displayed on the pages of Metro and The Sun, prompting 700 press articles and TV discussions, and garnering a horde of awards, including a Cannes gold Lion in Print & Publishing

A camera snap by a man on the internet called Luke Leighfield

If you’ve been living in a cave, Who Gives a Crap is an Australian-based toilet paper company that donates 50% of profits to charities who build toilets for people who don’t have them. More than just a great offering, they are market-leaders in marketing and writing damn fine copy. Few other brands write with such wit, intent and warmth. Maybe soon I will dissect some other areas of their copy. But for the meantime: delivery box copy, an area many brands overlook.

The copy

Perfect for blocked dnoses: And eben bedder for dthe planeat because we donate half our profidts to help…

Photo courtesy of Seedlip

Seedlip is the original non-alcoholic spirit. Founder Ben Branson started the company in 2015 to change the way the world drinks. At the time non-alcoholic alternatives were sweet and gross. So Ben created a range of sophisticated, nuanced non-alcoholic options for discerning folk.

I heard about them when I was working at a boutique liquor store. We had stocked them for Christmas, but we sold out before December. The popularity was no surprise though.

There was a mighty gap in the market, for one.

The product is amazing too. …

Courtesy of Delinquente wine

I was first introduced to Con-Greg Grigoriou, the winemaker behind Delinquente, when I worked in a boutique wine store in Perth, Western Australia. He was leading a tasting of his wines and, as a took a slurp, I remember thinking, Dang, that’s smashable.

I wouldn’t take Delinquente’s lineup to a group of bow-tie wearing sommeliers, but I have—and will continue to do so—bring them to casual dinner parties, picnics and pizza nights.

Image courtesy of Maker’s Mark

In recent years, the entry-level bottle by Maker’s Mark has become increasingly popular in Australia, being profiled on the liqueur shelves behind most bars.

It’s really good value, goes well in a number of cocktails, looks great on display, and champions a charming story—which, I might add, just might be the four most important marketing elements of a liquor.

Note, I said, ‘champions a charming story,’ not ‘has a charming story. You see, most people have a story. They just fail to tell it.

Or maybe they tell it on the website. But for whatever (not smart) reason, they don’t…

Jeremy runs an organic winery. As a small producer, he does everything. He grows the fruit, produces the wines using minimal intervention techniques, and even labels the bottles in his living room.

In turn, he works around the clock and, at the end of vintage, makes 3000 cases a year. Given he isn’t established in the industry, his bottles aren’t expensive. They retail for around $20-$30. His margins are reduced further given the wines pass through a few hands before reaching the customer.

The current supply chain hurts Jeremy

He sells them to his local wholesaler who slap a 30% margin on them. The local wholesaler…

100 years ago, if you owned a book store, the number of customers wasn’t necessarily the primary goal. You wanted quality customers.

You would have preferred the local professor than 10 of the local hoodlums.

After all, quality customers breed quality customers.

Over time, you might’ve become a hub among the forward-thinking community that would become the backbone of a successful, sustainable and meaningful business.

But what would’ve happened if you lowered your standards to attract more (but less quality) customers? You might’ve had a better week in the beginning, but at what cost long-term?

When we do digital marketing…

My friend lived in a poorly renovated home in Fremantle, Western Australia. Like many houses in the area, it was built in the early 20th century.

So the original structure — an adorable shack with limestone cladding, jarrah floorboards and ornate cornices — was beautiful.

But, in the 70s, the owners at the time built another room onto the back which was made out of red brick and, curiously, had a dome entrance and carpeted floors.

The next renovation, by the next owners, saw a kitchen with linoleum floors and green walls.

Many more owners and distasteful changes later, the…

From a distance, icebergs and ice floes can look similar

From a distance, icebergs and ice floes can look similar. Both are gigantic floating pieces of frozen water.

But, say you’re on the stern of an Arctic cruise ship and observe the two chunks of ice with binoculars.

After a while, you will find that an iceberg wouldn’t have moved much, despite the mighty currents. A floe, on the other hand, will have floated far away.

The reason, of course, is that 90 per cent of icebergs are below the water. They are more fixed and steady.

Floes are more like ice sheets, shifting with the underwater currents.

Back to…

Jayden O'Neil | Brew Copy

Hi. I’m a copywriter and brand message strategist for food and drink. ( For my personal, creative stuff, go here:

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