Content disasters: 5 content slip-ups your company needs to avoid

Steven Mike Voser
In this article, we look at 5 content blunders that landed the companies responsible in some really hot water. Plus, we'll also share some actionable tips to make sure your company doesn't end up being mentioned in an article like this one.

Content is king in the online world. Unfortunately, some companies get content wrong. Very wrong. In this article, we look at 5 content slip-ups that got some serious media attention, and not in a good sense. Remember, the purpose of this article is purely informational. We’re not trying to criticize any of the companies mentioned below. Instead, we’re simply using them to highlight the importance of making sure all your content is free of errors. For more related articles, remember to follow our blog.




Trendy restaurants are always looking for ways to bend the rules. And when they do so properly, it usually pays off. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for a London cafe (that we won’t name here) whose menu featured prices written as times of the day. Here are some examples from the menu:

  • Sourdough roll (marmite butter, crispy barley): 02:50
  • Green olives: 03:00
  • Pesto nuts: 03:00
  • Mac & Cheese (aged parmesan, shallot rings): 06:00/12:00

The cafe copped plenty of heat on social media after a user posted a photo of the menu on Twitter with the following comment: “Consistently amazed with the many ways trendy restaurants avoid writing prices. WE KNOW IT IS MONEY WE ARE NOT FOOLS.” Other social media users were quick to react, hounding the restaurant for the mistake. Some users likened the menu to a festival lineup or timetable, while others simply tore it apart with time jokes like: “Linda, cancel my plans I have sourdough roll at 02:50.”



On July 6th, 2013, Asiana flight 214 from Seoul, South Korea, crashed on its approach into San Francisco airport, killing 3 people and injuring roughly 200. News stations all around the globe covered the story, but the coverage by Bay Area station KTVU (a Fox affiliate station) got special attention. Thinking they were breaking news, the station’s news team published the supposed names of the pilots. Little did they know that the entire station was about to become the internet’s laughing stock. The pilot names published by KTVU were: Captain Sum Ting Wong (something wrong), Wi Tu Lo (we too low), Ho Lee Fuk (holy fuck), and Bang Ding Ow (bang ding ow). The station’s anchor, Tori Campbell, read the names aloud on the station, unaware they were part of a racist prank made by someone on the news team. It goes without saying that the station lost all credibility, despite publishing an apology about the broadcast, in which they put the blame on the US National Transportation Safety Board for confirming the names.


Heineken is renowned for its top-shelf advertising. Unfortunately, the beer giant dropped its game with a particular ad campaign for Bulmer’s, one of its leading brands of cider. Heineken’s new Bulmers campaign was supposed to celebrate the cider’s historic benefactor, Rev CH Bulmer, who created the brand in the late 19th century. There was just one problem: There was no photo of Reverend Bulmer to use as the face of the campaign. The solution? To buy a random Victorian-era photo of a classy, moustached gentleman who fits the bill, of course. Unfortunately for Heineken, its team of marketers happened to buy a photo of Hugh Price Hughes, a Welsh Protestant clergyman renowned for working with alcoholics to help them ditch their poison. It didn’t take long for the church to catch wind of the campaign and approach Heineken about the mishap. The company immediately stripped all the ads, publicly apologized for its mistake, and offered to visit the church which made the complaint and make a donation.
The company immediately stripped all the ads, publicly apologized for its mistake, and offered to visit the church which made the complaint and make a donation.


Supermarket giant Woolworth’s copped some fire after one of its kid activity books featured a hidden surprise. The activity book, titled Aussie Animals Activity And Collector’s Album, was designed to encourage kids to collect and trade cards featuring different species of Australian wildlife. Sadly, all it managed to encourage was outrage, after mums found the word “fuck” hidden in a word search puzzle inside the book. Parents made aware of the error quickly took to social media, where many of them urged the supermarket to remove the word and reprint issues of the magazine. However, Woolworth’s refused. Instead, it offered a public apology, explaining that the puzzle was randomly generated and that the mistake simply hadn’t been picked up in the proofreading process.


This simple slip-up got Costco into some hot, hot water. In 2013, a Californian pastor took to Twitter after finding Bibles on sale at Costco under the genre “fiction.” Pastor Caleb Kaltenbach was at the checkout at a Costco in the Los Angeles area buying a present for his wife when he realized that the bible he was about to purchase was labelled as fiction. He returned to check the other bibles at the store and soon realized they all had the same label. Kaltenbach then tried to approach someone at the store, but couldn’t find anyone, so he took to Twitter. His tweet got a lot of traction online and generated a heated discussion, with some people even calling to boycott Costco for the mistake. Sure enough, the story quickly got covered by major news channels, including Fox. After being approached for comment, Costco apologized for the mistake, blaming it on human error by one of its distributors.


The above stories all have one thing in common: They produced all the wrong publicity. Luckily, you can learn from these mistakes and ensure your company doesn’t end up in a similar situation. Here are some general take-home tips to help you and your company avoid these kinds of blunders:

  • Have a strict proofreading process. Remember to have all your content proofread by a skilled editor.
  • Avoid automated content like the plague. When it comes to content, it’s always best to work with a team of writers, editors, and translators instead of relying exclusively on technology.
  • Always fact check. Fact checking is extremely important, so make sure you have someone on your team ensuring you get all your facts straight.
  • Be patient. In the digital age, there is a lot of pressure for companies to pump out content quickly and consistently. Take a step back, and allow yourself some extra time to make sure your work is free of mistakes.