The Best and Worst of the Industry 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, we thought it only right to remember the best and worst marketing/PR moments of the year. We're counting down the times we laughed, cried, and cringed. What's on your list for best and worst moments of the year?

The Best of Times

GEICO Hump Day Camel Commercial


I’ll choose good humor any day of the week – especially on Wednesday. A true favorite for this year was Geico’s Hump Day Camel Commercial. -- Ann Marie

Ashton Kutcher's Teen Choice Award Acceptance Speech

Teen Choice Awards

This speech was both beautifully delivered and a pleasant surprise (albeit delivered to a mostly ignorant live audience). If you haven't seen it, check Ashton Kutcher's humble speech. I didn't see that one coming! -- Megan

Buffer's Response to Being Hacked

@Buffer on Twitter

This wasn't the most visible or flashy of PR moments, but it was a case study in how to do things right when things go wrong. Long story short: Buffer, a web app that allows users to schedule social media posts, was hacked one weekend back in October. Apparently some users had spam messages posted to their accounts, which as you can imagine is the nightmare scenario for anyone running a social media scheduling app. Buffer's response to the crisis was phenomenal, though. They began publishing real-time updates to their social channels, and were communicating in real time with users and reporters via email to keep everyone updated on what was going on. Their blog served as a home base for the latest updates. That transparency earned them a lot of praise during and after the crisis. Think about that—a service got hacked and their users praised them for the way they responded. To be sure: It was a mess. But it was also an example of how exactly to clean up a mess and get people to come back the next day. -- Paul

Beyoncé's Surprise Album Drop


I think the most unexpected and surprising well-played PR moment of the year was the release of Beyoncé's  fifth album without any advance notice, ads, marketing, commercials or media interviews, though with plenty of fanfare. Reportedly 80,000 fan purchased the album within 72 hours of its release on iTunes, with Queen Bey relying on social media and her loyal fanbase to get the word out. Don't be fooled though, there was plenty of strategy and a communication team behind the non-marketing marketing of the album (a press release was issued with its release after all), which adds to the brilliance of this move. -- Noelle


Via MakeaWish

It's always hard to name the best or worst of anything, but one of my favorite PR moments has to be #Sfbatkid. It was an amazing story and for a great cause. -- Maria

Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches"


Dove revamped its 2004 "Real Beauty" campaign this spring with a viral video called “Real Beauty Sketches,” which shows a sketch based on people describing themselves to a forensic artist compared to a second sketch based on how another person describes them to that same artist. The brand has done a wonderful job positioning itself as a true advocate of its shoppers, building a brand personality rather than simply promoting a product. This campaign from 2013 is another example of just that and truly touches you on so many levels. Well done, Dove. -- Annie and Chelsey

The Worst of Times

Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke at the VMAs


Call it the best or the worst and someone will share the opposite view. When publicity and “talk value” is the main goal, stunts (and in entertainment, the crazier, the better) certainly work. Miley owned the headlines for weeks afterwards and we’re still talking about it. Regardless of how we all personally feel about the performance and what happened to good ‘ol Hannah Montana, the year in self-promotion belonged to Miley. -- Dan

Lance Armstrong's Tell-All on Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Credit: AP/George Burns

Throughout the USDA investigation, Lance Armstrong denied using performance-enhancing drugs and then came clean in a tell-all interview with Oprah. -- Chelsey

Lululemon's Chip Wilson's Comments on "Women's Bodies"

Bloomberg TV

Cringeworthy is one way to describe it. After a host of bad PR stemming from product recalls of the $100+ pants, Canadian yoga brand founder, Lululemon's Chip Wilson went on TV and blamed "women's bodies" for all the problems with his product. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time and how much they use it,"  he said. I know what I'm NOT buying for Christmas this year! -- Megan

Justine Sacco's Insensitive AIDs Tweet


Oy. When it's your profession to communicate with your audience for a living on behalf of several brands, this glaringly racist gaffe that exploded the Twittersphere is a lesson in what not to do. -- Megan

Kenneth Cole's Misguided Syria Tweet


Call me a cynic, but I’m choosing to highlight a worst moment. My "favorite" from this year was the tweet and subsequent Instagram video from Kenneth Cole, a man well known for his world class(less) social media acumen. After sparking public outrage with a tweet that made light of the atrocities happening in Syria, he decided to double-down rather than apologize with a video casting himself as “an awareness raiser.”  -- Matthew

Rob Ford, the Crack-Smoking Mayor

Obviously, Ford made our list as a PR nightmare in 2013. Unless you've been living under a rock, it's pretty clear why. The notorious mayor of Toronto made headlines worldwide when he admitted to using drugs and alcohol in excess "about a year ago." Then, he kept making headlines again and again. But, some people still staunchly support him. Is he a winner or is he a loser? We're going to keep watching him into 2014 as he eyes the Prime Minister title and looks to revive his image. We'll see how that goes. -- Megan