13/06/2018 11:00 BST | Updated 13/06/2018 11:20 BST

From Absa To H&M — 5 Epic Fails That Got Companies In Trouble With Tweeps

Absa learnt the hard way that Twitter can destroy a poorly thought-out campaign. But the bank is not alone.

SIphotography via Getty Images


On Monday, Absa felt the wrath of Twitter when a poll it ran about black tax backfired. Absa apologised for any offence caused and said it was only trying to assist its clients, but many Twitter users saw the campaign as offensive.

Absa tweeted:

But Twitter was not impressed.

The bank later apologised and said the poll tweet was supposed to include a link to a blog post where an expert on the subject was interviewed.


In 2017, the cosmetics company withdrew an advert for a bottle of body wash. It showed a black woman taking off a brown shirt, and morphing into a white woman.

Twitter users called the brand out for the racist implications of the ad.


Swedish clothing brand H&M received vicious backlash after a campaign advertising a new range of hoodies was labelled racist. The campaign featured a picture of a white boy and a black boy, with the black boy's hoodie marked with the words, "Coolest monkey".

The advert was so controversial, it sparked condemnation from politicians, and even prompted the intervention of the South African Human Rights Commission. EFF members ransacked H&M stores in protest.

Standard Bank

Standard Bank tried to jump on the MakeAWomanSmileIn3Words hashtag on Twitter by promoting its credit cards. Twitter users were quick to call the bank out for its sexism, as the tweet portrayed women as money-hungry gold-diggers.


The social media giant reportedly lost $800 million after one of its ads was criticised by Rihanna. The ad asked users to choose whether they would rather "slap Rihanna" or "punch Chris Brown", as part of a game called "Would you rather".

The singer posted to her Instagram stories:

"You spent money to animate something at would intentionally bring shame to DV (domestic violence) victims and made a joke of it!!!"

Brown was convicted of assault after beating, choking and biting Rihanna in 2009. He received five years of probation.

"You let us down! Shame on you!": @rihanna has some strong words for @Snapchat over an advert that asked people if they would rather slap her or punch Chris Brown