2015 Annual: Gaffes of the year

annual2015 (1)Mumbrella looks back on some of the biggest gaffes to hit Australia’s media and marketing industries in 2015.

Clemenger left red faced after staffer hid image of a penis in university campaign poster

Clemenger BBDO Brisbane was forced to withdraw an outdoor campaign for the University of Queensland after an agency staffer hid the image of a penis in the artwork.

The college humour fail occurred in September when the university rolled out the poster campaign aimed at attracting new enrolments.

It is believed the campaign was in market for several days before the university was made aware of the phallic addition after students began joking about it on Facebook.

university of queensland clemenger penis

Victorian HearingVictorian Hearing apologises for ‘Hearing aids can be ugly’ campaign following online backlash

Victorian Hearing had to apologise for an ad which described hearing aids as “ugly” along with an image in which the hearing device was replaced with a prawn, after being accused of deaf shaming.

The campaign aimed to address the issue of 20 per cent of Australians refusing to seek help for failing hearing because they are embarrassed however the campaign angered many members of the deaf community who took to social media to express their disgust with the ad.

One person said: “I don’t really love my hearing aids, but I accept that with the severity of my hearing loss, I’m stuck with them. To see them referred to as ugly though — that’s just really unhelpful.”

While Victorian Hearing stood by the ad, saying saying since the release of the campaign they had been able to “help many who would have never stepped foot inside an audiology clinic as they were not aware of all options available”, the Ad Standards Board banned the controversial campaign as it was viewed to be discriminatory and hateful towards people who need hearing aids.

Cummins & Partners apologises to AFL for plagiarising Multicultural Round campaign

Creative agency Cummins & Partners were caught out for plagiarising the work of an Adelaide-based designer Tyson Beck in its multicultural round campaign for the AFL. The agency apologised to the AFL after the sporting code conceded the campaign was too similar to Beck’s work.

Chris Jeffares, Cummins & Partners CEO, told Mumbrella the agency is “working very closely” with the AFL after the Herald Sun revealed the multicultural round campaign bore a striking similarity to a design of NBA star LeBron James created by Beck.

“As soon as we found out what happened we contacted the artist and apologised. He’s been very complimentary about the process and we’re compensating him,” Jeffares said.

LeBron James - Face of Cleveland - Artwork by Tyson Beck

AFL multicultural round

Sprite ShowersCoca-Cola pulls Sprite Showers activation hours after building them at Bondi Pavilion

Setting up an event can be costly – setting it up and then pulling it down straight away even more so. In March Coca-Cola unexpectedly pulled its Sprite Showers stunt that was expected to be held at Bondi Beach after it had already been built, citing “unforeseen circumstances” beyond its control.

The activation, which saw a giant post-mix Sprite machine set up in front of the Bondi Pavilion, had run in the past in Brazil and Israel.

It was revealed Coca-Cola pulled the activation because of the NSW State Government’s announcement about introducing a cash for containers scheme – an initiative the company had opposed.

A million reason not to take #YourTaxis

The Victorian Taxi Association’s #YourTaxi social media campaign in which it asked punters to share their experiences in taxis was never going to end well.

yourtaxis tweet

While the VTA initially stood by the campaign, the CEO of the taxi body admitted the “concept and delivery” of the campaign was not right. The comments came after an “inappropriate” tweet was published on Remembrance Day, with the VTA using that as an excuse to “part ways” with the agency responsible, understood to be Ellis Jones.

Verco: 'PR people

PRs are ‘the smartest person in the room’ at cross-agency briefings argues n2n boss

Jamie Verco, the head of social at n2n Communications and Fuel Communications, angered rival advertising and marketing disciplines when he claimed the PR person “is the smartest person in the room” when it comes to collaborating with other agencies to solve a client’s problem.

“We’re the smartest people in the room.  In the last decade the average ATAR [Australian Tertiary Admission Rank] score for a person that we employ would be north of 95.

“When we’re sitting in a cross-agency room we’ve got some pretty smart people that can contribute to the conversation,” he said.

Mamamia should have gone to Specsavers

Mamamia confusing American actress Eva Longoria and Sofia Vergara was quite embarrassing for the publication.

A story about Longoria having a hissy fit around a journalist’s suggestion that she doesn’t wear glasses but still endorses discount glasses chain Specsavers use of a gallery had one flaw – the Instagram posts in the gallery weren’t Longoria’s, they were Vergara’s.

Mamamia might have picked up on one or two subtle clues they’d grabbed the wrong feed, for example Vergara crouching next to her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Tracey Spicer claims The Guardian is exploiting freelance writers to produce branded content and Dee Madigan slams unsolicited request to blog for free for Huffington Post as ‘insulting’

The Guardian and Huffington Post both came under fire this year for asking freelance writers to write for little payment or none.

Journalist Tracey Spicer accused The Guardian of “exploitation” of freelance workers after she was asked to write a 1,000-word branded content column on women’s financial empowerment for client ANZ for $140 – 14 cents per word while Dee Madigan slammed The Huffington Post for an unsolicited approach to write for free, describing it as insulting.

Scott McIntyreSBS sacks football reporter Scott McIntyre over series of ‘disrespectful’ Anzac Day tweets

Journalists love social media, particularly Twitter. But for Scott McIntyre some Tweets on Anzac Day resulted in his employer, SBS, sacking him.

Among a series of comments on the social network site McIntyre tweeted “remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan” and “Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered”.

SBS quickly disowned the comments and then promptly sacked McIntyre with SBS managing director Michael Ebeid saying McIntyre had compromised the “integrity of the network and audience trust”.

An online petition was started urging broadcaster SBS to reinstate McIntyre, with McIntyre then launching a discrimination case against the broadcaster claiming it did “not follow due process” when it fired him.

The sports reporter has enlisted the services of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers to contest the sacking, with the law firm saying the case will hinge on whether SBS overstepped its powers by axing the journalist “without a proper investigation”.

Fairfax-234x233Fairfax pulls down job ad for ‘sales rep & journalist’ position saying it was posted in error

Fairfax Media were forced to withdraw a job ad for a “sales representative & journalist” in its local paper division, saying it was posted as a “combined role” by mistake.

The publisher, which has the company motto ‘independent always’, drew criticism online for the advertisement with its Australian Community Media division which appeared to cross the division between editorial and sales.

After Mumbrella contacted Fairfax the job ad was quickly taken down with a Fairfax spokesperson saying: “This position at a small weekly paper in regional NSW has been mistakenly advertised as a combined role.

“It should have been two part-time roles, one for sales, another for editorial. It is not our intention to have one person performing both functions.”



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing