2014 Annual: Top 10 gaffes of 2014

In 2014 the media and marketing industries endured their fair share of mistakes and gaffes. Here in the final part of the 2014 Annual we recap some of the biggest screw ups, blunders and mistakes from last year.

fukt2-468x3511. The Australian Financial Review tells its Western Australian readers that the “World is fukt”

The editor-in-chief of the national financial newspaper was forced to apologise for a headline that ran on the front page of its Western Australian edition today stating: “ARMS BUILDUP | BUYS PLANES | WORLD IS FUKT.”

The front page garnered international media attention and set social media alight after an early version of the front page was accidentally sent to print centres nationally and an attempt to recall it was unsuccessful for the Financial Review’s Perth edition which as a result was sent to press with the wrong version.afr

safe2. PR stunt for Ubisoft sees bomb squad called to Ninemsn offices in Australia Square

Everyone loves a little mystery in a PR stunt but not when that mystery leads to the bomb squad being called to the offices of Ninemsn after a black safe was delivered to the Australia Square offices of the publisher along with a “suspicious” letter which told a reporter to “check your voicemail”.

The stunt for a new video game saw Ubisoft forced to apologise with a spokesperson for the gaming company saying the delivery of the safe, which had the wrong pin code attached to it, “didn’t go as planned”.

3. Malcolm Turnbull insists jibe about ‘a demented plutocrat’ wasn’t aimed at media mogul Rupert Murdoch

It was the launch of The Saturday Paper and communications minister Malcolm Turnbull’s speech to the crowd saw him go repeatedly off-script and made several jibes which appeared to be at the expense of News Corp’s flagship newspaper The Australian and its chairman Rupert Murdoch.

One jibe in particular referencing a “demented plutocrat” was seen as an attack on Murdoch with editor-in-chief of The Australian firing back at the minister by accusing him of courting the “enemies” of the Liberal Party by launching Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper.

Turnbull for his part insisted that the line actually referenced William Randolph Hearst. Many of those in the crowd that night did not see that reference.

stormy4. PR agency apologises after giving out awards to journalists

It was done with the best of intentions but an initiative by WordStorm PR soon backfired on the Sydney PR agency. The agency decided to give out awards to its favourite journalists, there were 13 winners in categories including ‘Most approachable TV producer’, ‘journalist that best featured our client’, ‘best blogger’ and ‘journalist we’d most love to employ as a PR’.

The awards, called The Stormys, soon lived up to their name with one journalist complaining that her reputation had been tarnished. The owner of the PR agency Monica Rosenfeld insisted “it was not a bad idea”, but admitted it will be the first and last time it would run the awards after receiving a complaint from one of the winners, and ridicule on social media.

5. Mediacom issues media release claiming it won MFA Grandprix

In the spirit of being prepared Australia’s second largest media agency Mediacom prepared a media release which said it won the Grand Prix at the annual Media Federation Awards, along with, well, everything else.

While Mediacom did do well on the night many in the trade press were surprised by the release which was accidentally sent to a number of outlets. A new release, reflecting its actual wins, was soon issued.

6. Sephora takes the ‘o’ out of count

It was a simple mistake to make but one which caused Sephora no end of ridicule, ahead of the opening of its new store in Sydney, after it left off the ‘o’ from its hashtag #countdowntobeauty.


Fairfax7. Fairfax apologise for putting wrong photo on its front pages

While some mistakes were funny others were incredibly serious and likely to cost the publisher significant sums in damages.

An error by Fairfax Media which saw the newspaper publisher run a picture of the wrong man on three of its front pages with headlines including “Teen Jihad” and “Teenage Terror” in articles about the teenage terror-suspect shot by police was in the latter category.

Fairfax immediately apologised and withdrew the image from online copies. In a statement on its websites Fairfax issued an “unreserved apology” for the error saying: “One of the photographs run on this website and Fairfax papers in relation to the death of Numan Haider was published in error. The young man in a suit was not Mr Haider, and we unreservedly apologise to him for the error.”

ninja8. Paramount apologises over 9/11 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster

Film distributor Paramount was forced to apologise over poster promoting the Australian release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on September 11 which featured an image of the heroes plummeting down the side of an exploding New York skyscraper.

An apology was soon issued: “We are deeply sorry to have used that artwork for the marketing materials promoting the September 11 opening in Australia. Combining that image and date was a mistake. We intended no offense and have taken immediate action to discontinue its use.”

Tele9. Daily Telegraph apologises for using photo of Boston bombing victim in Mike Carlton photoshop

Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph was also forced to apologise after it photoshopped the face of  Mike Carlton along with a headscarf to make it look like a Palestinian man fleeing the bombing in Gaza was actually a photo of a Boston bombing victim.

When contacted the Telegraph was forced to acknowledge that the photoshop was in bad taste with editor Paul Whittaker saying he was not aware of it.

“The photoshopped image was an amalgam of different images put together during the art production process,” said Whittaker.

“I was unaware that that particular image had been partially used. It is an inadvertent but regrettable mistake for which The Daily Telegraph apologises unreservedly.”

10. PR firm apologises for Rolf Harris blunder 

A PR firm had to issue a hasty apology after distributing a press release which used the downfall of disgraced Rolf Harris as a bizarre way of promoting its client.

AC Agency admitted the release was “in poor taste” and apologised for any offence after it published a media release which sought to use the recent scandal surrounding Rolf Harris in an effort to draw attention to the work of artist Pro Hart.

In an apology by Dora Nikols it was acknowledged that: “I now realise was in poor taste and deeply regret offending anyone.”


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