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  • Writer's pictureKobe carbajal

How a Seemingly Lousy Ad Can Still be Successful

What is marketing?

Marketing can be described as the art of telling stories to your audience to entice them to buy your product. And In the marketing world, the way you can tell your story takes different forms, whether it's slapping your slogan on the side of a bus, sending an email, or tying a banner to the end of an airplane. The number of ways you can get your story out there is endless.

A good campaign might have

  • Memorable images

  • Catchy jingles

  • Punchy slogans

  • A clear audience

  • Proper showcasing of the product

The marks of a bad campaign

  • Not clearly showcasing the product

  • Not knowing the proper audience

  • Being forgettable

These characteristics are the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful marketing campaign.


Take Nike for example. Nike combined most of the listed traits to create one of the most memorable ad campaigns ever made: Just Do It.

By knowing their target audience, they were able to use the powerful image of different athletes overcoming every challenge they encounter while using the product. They were able to tie it all together using the iconic slogan Just Do It! To create one of the most successful marketing campaigns ever.


That ad was successful because the company took great care to make their ads were well-received and loved by their audience.


Based on Nike’s story, you might just be tempted to think that all successful ads have to be well received to be successful. But I'm here to tell you that that's not the case.

A grub-flub


Grubhub is a business that allows its customers to order food via their app and have it shipped to their homes. And in late 2020, they released an ad that had a very unconventional success story.

Now, if you weren't around during the latter half of 2020 or don't remember this ad, here's a brief description:


The ad opens up with a man ordering a chicken sandwich via Grubhub. And after finishing the order, it transitions to a red void where he proceeds to eat his sandwich while dancing with another group of people who seemingly also used Grubhub to some generic pop music. All while a narrator tells the audience about the perks of using GrubHub.

This ad combines many popular things at the time --primarily dancing, pop music, and animation. It wasn't original or innovative by any means; it might seem harmless and almost forgettable. But this ad had a secret weapon I don't even think Grubhub knew it had.


It was awful! Not in the sense that it was unsuccessful, but in the sense that it was poorly made. The animations were jerky and unnatural, the dance was incredibly odd and cringy to look at, and the song they used was incredibly annoying. The overall ad was just an eyesore to watch.


After it was released, the ad sparked an unbridled rage across the globe. The ad did the exact opposite thing that successful ads have done in the past. Grubhub infuriated their audience.


But the ad stuck! Everyone was talking about it. Whether it was commenting on how annoying and cringy the ad was and how It seemingly failed on every conceivable level at being a good ad.


But ultimately, the ad was a success. By unintentionally making this ad as terrible as it was, GrubHub increased its longevity and made one of the most unconventionally successful marketing campaigns in recent memory.


This led to follow-up campaigns where they embraced the audience's hatred and made light of their failure, and even challenged them to make to try to make a better one as a way to capitalize on their situation, thus increasing the previous ad's longevity even further.

By making an ad so terrible, it caused their audience to fly into a rage. And by following the idea that marketing is all about being seen, Grubhub created one of the most perplexingly successful marketing campaigns ever.


Whether you try to inspire your audience to conquer any obstacle that lies ahead of them, like the Nike ad, or manage to enrage your audience into making your ad a hit like the Grubhub commercial. At the end of the day, marketing is all bout telling your product's story and getting it out to your audience. And as long as your ad isn't forgettable, you have the building blocks needed to tell a successful story.

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