4 Ways AI Marketing Campaigns can go Hilariously Wrong 

Google Photos' mistake
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October 27, 2023

Ever felt like technology was out to get you? 

We've all had those moments where our gadgets seem to have a mind of their own. But what happens when that "mind" is an AI algorithm designed to boost your marketing efforts? 

Spoiler alert: it's not always a smooth ride to success. 

In fact, sometimes it's a downright hilarious disaster. So grab some popcorn and get comfy, because we're about to take a comedic journey through the world of AI marketing campaigns that didn't just fail; they became legendary for their blunders.

1. Watson’s Oncology Oops

Imagine launching an AI designed to help eradicate cancer. You're feeling like a superhero in a lab coat. But then, Watson for Oncology starts suggesting treatments that are more comic book than medical journal. 


Because the data it trained on was about as real as a unicorn. Now, you're not just dealing with a PR nightmare; you're facing ethical questions that could have serious repercussions. So, if you're thinking of using AI to understand your audience, remember: garbage in, garbage out. 

Make sure your data is as real as the problems you're trying to solve, or you might end up prescribing rainbow therapy for serious issues. The bottom line? Always double-check your data sources and maybe even have a human expert in the loop to avoid turning your brand into a tragicomedy.

2. Microsoft’s Teenage Meltdown

Several years ago, Microsoft designed a Twitter chatbot to mimic a teenager's lingo. But it only took less than 24 hours for the internet to do what it does best: turn their hip chatbot into a foul-mouthed rebel. 

Suddenly, they were no longer the cool parent; and instead had to yell, "You're grounded!" at their own creation. 

The lesson? 

Always have a plan B, C, and maybe even D when it comes to content strategy. And never underestimate the power of internet trolls to turn your AI into the class clown. 

So, before you unleash your next AI-powered campaign, maybe run some worst-case scenario simulations. You know, just to make sure your AI doesn't decide to go through its rebellious phase in public.

3. China’s Billionaire Jaywalker

Facial recognition in China is next-level. So advanced that it accused a billionaire of jaywalking because his face was on a bus ad. If this doesn't scream "double-check your work," I don't know what does. It's like your AI took one look at a tweet and decided to make it the cornerstone of your new marketing campaign. 

In social media marketing, this could be like mistaking a sarcastic tweet for a compliment and retweeting it. Always have a human in the loop to catch these AI missteps. And maybe, just maybe, don't rely solely on AI to handle sensitive tasks like legal accusations or, you know, identifying criminals based on bus ads.

4. Google Photos’ Mountainous Mistake

Google Photos tried to get creative by merging background images into panoramas. But it hilariously mistook a skier for a mountain, creating a landscape where humans are the size of skyscrapers. It's like your AI decided to go avant-garde when you asked for a simple banner ad.
Google Photos' mistake

Image from: qz.com

In marketing, always be prepared for the unexpected. 

Your AI might think it's being creative, but sometimes it's just plain wrong. 

So, if you're planning to use AI for something as critical as your next ad campaign, maybe keep a human on standby. Because the last thing you want is for your brand to become the next meme for all the wrong reasons.

Avoiding the Embarrassment

Imagine a world where your chatbot actually understands customer queries, your sentiment analysis tool can detect sarcasm, and your social media posts are both engaging and relevant. 

In this utopia, your brand is thriving. Your customers are happy, your team is less stressed, and you're not the butt of internet jokes anymore. Your marketing campaigns are hitting all the right notes, and you're finally getting the ROI you've been dreaming of.

You've learned from your mistakes, tweaked your algorithms, and now your AI tools are working in harmony with your human team. It's like a well-oiled machine where everyone knows their role, and the chances of another hilarious blunder are slim to none.

And the best part? You've got time to focus on strategy and creativity, rather than putting out fires. 

AI can be a powerful tool in marketing when used correctly. If you're looking to avoid becoming the next viral sensation for all the wrong reasons, consider joining our weekly, no-cost CXO roundtable. We discuss the latest trends, share insights, and yes, sometimes even laugh at the absurdity of it all. Because in marketing, if you're not laughing, you're probably crying.