Young Folks

Cringe marketing tactics 2023

Cringe marketing tactics to leave behind in 2023

Oofftttt. 2023 brought the cringe factor.

The Kardashian sisters fighting. Everything in Prince Harry’s book but namely him talking about his todger. Literally anything to do with Trump (how is he still a thing?). The sheer volume of beauty influencer controversies. Barnaby Joyce’s wedding.

This was hot chat in our #banter Slack channel.

Along with a bunch of cringe marketing practices that we hope to high heavens are left behind in 2023. For a bit of fun, our team has put together a list of the absolute worst, the “marketing icks” that make us want to facepalm and reconsider our life choices.

Get ready to cringe, and maybe even shed a tear for the state of marketing

1. Try-hard TikTok ads

Ami, our Marketing Coordinator, nominates the cringe-worthy ‘try-hard’ TikTok ads. Seriously, can we stop pretending to be cool? HiSmile, we’re looking at you. No amount of influencers smearing purple goop over their teeth and feigning shock at their ‘suddenly’ white smile will make us forget we’re watching an ad.

2. Instagram Stories resharing feed posts (but only kinda)

Ami’s got another ick, and it’s Instagram stories that reshare feed posts but throw in a tease with partial coverage. This engagement tactic might have once been popular. But accounts using it now are seriously giving 2019 vibes.

3. Sneaky Google Search ads

Taylah, our Digital Marketing Strategist, is onto marketers using dynamic keyword insertion in Google Ads during sales, leaving us thinking there’s a discount on what we’re searching only to find that’s not the case when we click through. RIP your bounce rate.

4. Forgetting to turn off sale ads

Ami, yet again, spots a major ick: companies forgetting to turn off sale ads post-promotion. There’s nothing more annoying than loading your cart with goodies and ‘TIKTOK20’ is invalid 🙄.​ The same goes for ads featuring products that are out of stock – not cool.

5. Geo-fail: ads not localised

As for me, I’m calling out the doozie of getting hit with non-localised ads. USD prices when we use a different currency in Australia? Fall aesthetic in scorching heat? Can we get some geo-savvy advertising, please?

6. Last-minute sale discounts

Another one from me, this time exposing the frustration of brands offering deeper discounts after a sale weekend. There’s truly nothing worse than snapping up something special you’ve had your eye on (because we’re consuming consciously, of course) at the beginning of the BFCM weekend only to find its price has been slashed two days later. Loyalty deserves better treatment than playing hard to get with discounts.

7. AI customer service nightmares

My third strike is AI customer service. Robot voices and automated AI chatbot responses to our very real problems feels quite audacious. Sure, automation can help customers get to the right support channel – but if a company undervalues paying customers to the point of substituting human assistance with AI, it’s a surefire way to evoke rage. Is it too much to ask for a real conversation?

8. Meta’s creative misfires

Taylah’s ick? Meta’s Advantage Plus Creative. Auto-applying happy birthday music or awkwardly cutting out logos with an ugly green border? Meta, we need better creative decisions. These are not immaculate vibes.

9. Influencers and their sneaky sponsorships

Kali, our Operations Manager, is all about transparency. Influencers, please spill the tea on sponsorships. We want to know if it’s a paid partnership or just a friendly shoutout. Build trust, not secrets.

10. Shell’s fuel voucher fiasco

Liv, our Digital Marketing Strategist, dishes the dirt on Shell’s influencer campaign. Fuel vouchers to ‘help Aussies out’ when they control fuel prices? Nice try, but we’re not buying it. Oh, and while we’re calling out fuel companies – carbon neutral fuel? Sounds a lot like greenwashing to us. Yuck.

11. Bulk hashtags: a relic of the past

Vik, our Account Director, declares the end of the road for bulk hashtags. It’s time to let them go, fam. There are more effective ways to boost reach without drowning in a sea of tags. #MicDrop

12. Faux thought leaders on LinkedIn

Because who doesn’t love a good eye roll when scrolling through LinkedIn? I’m adding the ick of faux thought leaders waxing lyrical. Inspirational quotes and deep musings are great, but let’s keep it real. Authenticity > Buzzword Bingo. And don’t even get me started on LinkedIn posts clearly penned by ChatGPT. If the last paragraph of your post starts with “In conclusion…” you’re busted. Can we get some genuine insights, please?

13. The CPA/CPL mirage: chasing volume, losing quality

Taylah unveils the ick of marketers relentlessly chasing lower CPAs and CPLs without weighing the cost of compromised quality. It’s the classic case of “cheap isn’t always cheerful.” While the numbers may look stellar on paper, Taylah questions whether the achieved lower costs translate to valuable outcomes. Marketers, let’s not be blindsided by budget goals at the expense of delivering genuine value. Quality over quantity, always.

14. The dreaded SMS opt-out call

Kali wraps it up with the horror of SMS marketing that requires a phone call to opt out. Seriously, who has time for that? It’s 2023 – let us escape the endless texts with a simple click. Or just let me reply STOP to opt-out.

That’s a wrap

So there you have it, folks – the marketing icks that make us cringe that we implore you to ditch. Share the love (or the cringe) and let’s collectively hope for more creative and less cringe-inducing marketing in the year ahead.

Want to up your marketing game in 2024? Read our future forecast featuring 19 marketing trends that we’re predicting will shape the marketing landscape in 2024. Or get in touch with our team for a complimentary exploration call.

Written by

Erin Morris is the founder and director at Young Folks. Packing more than 10 years marketing experience, Erin has worked with start-ups, corporates and everything in between. She loves listening to audiobooks whilst running, oat milk flat whites, and scouring Marketplace for secondhand furniture finds.

Our Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula studios are open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. If you’re a brand in the business of doing good, we’d love to hear from you.

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