Video Marketing Fails and How to Avoid Them

Videos have become one of the most popular forms of content marketing over the past few years—research has shown that 9 out of 10 marketers earn new customers through video marketing. This has led to businesses, both small and large, spending more time and money on creating videos to share with their audience on a regular basis. However, this rush to capitalize on the video trend isn’t always successful, leading to video marketing fails that consequently hurt a business’ image.

Considering how expensive and time-consuming video creation can be, it isn’t surprising that some brands are simply not able to create the quality of content they are aiming for. But even worse than poor quality videos, it is when the content conflicts with a business’ audience, that a marketing campaign inevitably becomes a failure.

Though one would expect small businesses to be the culprit in this area, due to their lack of resources, it is generally larger and more popular brands that create the biggest marketing fails. This is generally a result of a few key mistakes that anyone can make.

Here are the top video marketing fails and how you can avoid them.

Targeting the Wrong Audience

One of the primary purposes of creating a marketing strategy is to target one’s audience. Whether large or small, businesses study their social media audiences in advance of creating a marketing campaign, and this should be doubly true for video marketing. Creating videos is a labor-intensive exercise, and the last thing a marketer wants to do is spend the time and money making a high-quality video that doesn’t reach its intended audience.

While it may be feasible to target the majority of video campaigns to millennials, who consume video content far more than any other demographic if the product itself is not suitable for the audience, the video will fail to do its job.

Instead of targeting audiences that are more likely to be on video platforms, create content that will appeal to your intended market and promote it on the platforms relevant to them. This will ensure that you reach the people who will potentially be interested in your product.

Adopting the Wrong Sentiment

One of the biggest marketing fails in recent years was McDonald’s advertisement about a boy’s dead father. The point of the ad was to show how dissimilar the boy was from his father, except for the way he ate his McDonald’s burger. The ad was resoundingly decried by the public for exploiting grief and for talking down to the audience.

What McDonald’s got wrong with this ad was its sentiment—they were aiming for an emotional response but they went about it by denigrating the ad’s protagonist, who the audience were meant to relate to.

Talking down to the audience, even in a humorous sense, is always a risky move, and it wasn’t surprising that McDonald’s failed with this marketing campaign. When creating videos for your campaign, adopt a sentiment that aligns with your brand personality and will appeal to your audience. Use test audiences for tricky concepts but stick to the tried and tested unless you are absolutely sure that your tone of voice in the ad will effectively share your message. If there is a hint of doubt that the video may backfire, it is best not to adopt the concept. As they say, better safe than sorry.

Joining the Band-Wagon

Pepsi’s failed video campaign featuring Kendall Jenner has become an infamous example of the follies of jumping on the band-wagon. In 2017, Pepsi created an ad featuring the hot topic of police violence at demonstrations, suggesting that a bottle of Pepsi could stop the fighting. Unsurprisingly, people were outraged by the way the brand handled the subject and the choice of model for the ad.

While it is important for brands, particularly small businesses, to be on-trend, if a subject is co-opted poorly, it can lead to a severe backlash. Not all brands have the staying power of Pepsi to continue to grow even after such a marketing failure, which is why companies need to be careful about which subjects they choose to feature in their video.

Subjects that are overtly political will always elicit strong reactions, so it is best to avoid wading into politics, no matter how trendy it is. If one must participate in a trend, do as much research as possible to understand where the trend originated, how people are reacting to it now, and whether or not it aligns with your brand. Choosing the topic for your video is always something you need to be careful about. If you aren’t sure of how well your audience will react, don’t try to force it into your strategy.

Forgetting About SEO

While SEO doesn’t pertain to television advertising as it existed a few years ago, with the digital sphere overtaking all other forms of media, SEO has become extremely important. For the majority of content types, SEO is fairly standard practice, but many companies fail to adopt SEO strategies for their videos. This is a mistake and can lead to the loss of potential customers.

To ensure you use SEO best practices for your video marketing, always use keywords for the video title, descriptions, as well as video sitemaps, which Google will be able to read and thus include in its searches. Search engines have become the chief way for people to access brands and optimizing your videos for Google will ensure that you reach your audience.

Long Videos

The attention span of audiences has decreased dramatically. People are busier than ever and there is so much content available to them now that they don’t have time to read or watch everything they encounter from start to finish.

The first six seconds of a video is said to be the most crucial in attracting your audience’s attention, but even the most engaging video will lose the audience if it’s longer than a minute. The best performing videos are short, sharp, and to the point. Canadian Tire’s 2016 ad for the Summer Olympics was one minute long and featured a strong story about diversity and inclusion that was guaranteed to grip the audience.

While Canadian Tire has a large marketing budget, a small ice-cream shop called Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams created a YouTube video ad that had the same effect on its intended audience, and was only 30 seconds long and created on a small budget. The positive response the ad received was because of its brevity, its tone, and how well it leveraged its subject matter.

Though it can be tempting to create one long video that shares all the brand’s messages, the chances are that it will not be seen by the intended audience. Creating several smaller videos is a better tactic to capitalize on video marketing.

Branding Incorrectly

One of the surprising mistakes that even the biggest companies make is branding their videos incorrectly. While large businesses have recognizable logos, small businesses can use logo templates to create excellent logos for their brands. Whether the video is meant as a television advert or for YouTube, branding correctly is the key to your audience recalling who the video is by, which will lead them to make a purchase.  

Without proper branding, even the best videos will fail to garner the leads a business needs to turn a profit. While over-branding a video can turn an audience away, there are subtle ways to initiate brand recall without stamping your logo on every shot.

Tide’s Super Bowl advertisement featuring Stranger Things’ David Harbour effectively kept their branding to a minimum but had such a strong story that they were instantly memorable. Though it may not be possible for small businesses to replicate Tide’s success, there are some smaller things they can do to achieve brand recall.

Including one’s logo and tagline at the start and end of videos is a good way to remind one’s audience of the brand. It is also beneficial to add a website link for the audience to learn more about the brand and make a final purchase.

No Call to Action

Once your audience has watched your video, they need to know what action they are expected to perform. Should they visit your website, your blog, download an app, or visit a store? It is imperative that they know the next step or your marketing video will have failed to achieve its goal.

Always include a call to action at the end of your video, with clear directions for what you want your target audience to do after watching your content. Include a slide at the end of your video with a clear call to action, or add it as part of the voiceover for the video. On YouTube, you can remind viewers to perform an action by adding it in the description, as well.


Video marketing fails do not need to be a part of your brand’s legacy. By following a few best practices, you can create videos that are impactful and encourage your viewers to buy your product or service. 

For small businesses and enterprises, and educational institutions, it can be challenging to remember all the steps for creating a powerful video. Moovly is a convenient online video making tool that not only has in-depth tutorials on video making but also helpful video templates that can be customized, so you can create strong brand videos that convert your audience into loyal customers.

Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic and design platform. Ronita is interested in a variety of topics with regards to digital marketing, visual content, and online engagement, which she enjoys researching and writing about.

Twitter: @Venngage