United Airlines went viral in the worst way possible when video of a man being wrestled off one of its flights hit the internet. The man, a doctor who needed to return home for his shift at a hospital, was forcibly removed from a plane because a crew member needed his seat. Video showed security dragging the man being off the plane by his arms with blood on his face.
United’s latest public relations nightmare was preceded by an incident last month in which two teenagers were barred from boarding their flight because they were wearing leggings.
Within minutes of Pepsi unveiling a new ad starring Kendall Jenner, social media users almost unanimously came down against it, calling the protest-themed commercial tone deaf and opportunistic. The ad, which depicted Jenner resolving the tension at a protest scene with a can of Pepsi, was pulled after a day and the company issued an apology.
In 2015, Starbucks had its own PR disaster with its “race together” campaign, which sought to help heal race relations in America through coffee cup stickers, and not much else. Critics slammed the campaign, which began in response to a series police shootings, as a cheap marketing ploy.
Bloomingdales ran a print ad in 2015 encouraging readers to “spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” With the accompanying photo of a man looking at a distracted woman, some accused the ad of contributing rape culture by encouraging people to shirk consent.
Budweiser found itself in a similar position when customers noticed that some Bud Light cans featured the quote “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” One of 140 slogans printed on the cans as part of the “Up for Whatever” campaign, the quote nonetheless drew the ire of those who said the company was encouraging rape.
The skincare company Nivea took some heat on social media after it debuted an ad featuring the phrase “white is purity,” which some accused of supporting white supremacy. The ad also included a picture of a woman and the caption “Keep it clean, keep it bright. Don’t let anything ruin it.”
Samsung began selling its Galaxy Note 7 phones in August 2016, and by September, it had suspended sales of the phone due to reports that they were catching fire during charging. After issuing replacement phones only to find that those phones were also catching fire, the company officially recalled the product on Sept. 15. In October, it issued a software update to brick the model entirely.
Wells Fargo is currently amid its own PR disaster after it came to light that employees were creating thousands of fraudulent accounts to meet unrealistic sales goals. As many of 5,300 employees were fired as a result, and the company has since clawed back $180 million from two former executives.
When President Trump signed the first version of his Muslim travel ban in February and taxis briefly withheld service from airports in protest, Uber announced it would be lowering its own prices. The action led to a mass boycott of the ride sharing service and the hashtag #DeleteUber.
Chick-fil-A’s history of anti-LGBT activism came to light after the company’s CEO Dan Cathy admitted to opposing same-sex marriage in 2012. Amid increasing public outcry, the company eventually vowed to stop donating to anti-LGBT causes.