2017 in Review

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Is it too much to ask to do a little better?
The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017
Image credit: Mark Ralston | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Staff
17 min read

We’ve all been there -- the moment where your palm hits your face with regret. But once it’s done, it’s done and the damage could be hard to repair.

Easily one of the biggest facepalms of the year occurred at the Oscars, when the wrong movie was announced for Best Picture. American Airlines experienced a temporary computer glitch that allowed too many pilots to schedule vacation time over the holidays. Or there's Zara advertising its new denim for “curvy” women using rail-thin models.

Related: Biggest Social Media Fails of 2017

Sure, these things happen, and they will continue to, but is it too much to ask to try a little harder? Check out some of 2017’s most memorable facepalm moments.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

A Twitter contractor "accidentally" disabled President Donald Trump's account.

A Twitter contractor "accidentally" disabled President Donald Trump's account.
Image credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images

For 11 minutes in early November, the Twitter account of President Donald Trump was deactivated. Twitter took this development well.

After the deactivation, stories circulated that a rogue Twitter employee on his last day deactivated the account. That was only partially true.

Rather, the former employee, Bahtiyar Duysak, had been assigned to customer support at the micro-blogging site. He told Techcrunch that on his last day, Trump was reported. And "as a final, throwaway gesture, he put the wheels in motion to deactivate it. Then he closed his computer and left the building."

But he never thought Trump's account would be deactivated, saying the whole thing was a "mistake."

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Wish.com product images lead to social media furor

Wish.com product images lead to social media furor
Image credit: wish.com

Ecommerce site Wish probably wishes that it had given these product images a bit more thought before putting them out in the world.

To sell its plus size tights, which are fairly well-reviewed on the website, the company opted to show just how comfortable they were by showing a fairly slim model essentially just pulling them up around her entire body. If Wish were going for inclusive and body-positive, it seems that it fell a little wide the mark.

And the people who took to social media to call out the company were pretty merciless.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

American Airlines gives too many pilots vacation time over the holidays.

American Airlines gives too many pilots vacation time over the holidays.
Image credit: Scott Olson / Staff | Getty Images

A temporary computer glitch allowed thousands of American Airlines staffers to schedule time off during the last two weeks of December, leaving many scheduled flights without pilots.

As of Nov. 30, more than 15,000 American Airlines flights scheduled from Dec. 17 to Dec. 31 still did not have a pilot, first officer or both, and the company was scrambling to get employees scheduled to work and avoid flight cancellations.

Related: American Airlines Glitch Caused It to Give Too Many Pilots Vacation Over Holidays

"We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 percent of their hourly rate -- as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract," the airline said in a statement to PCMag

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) union, however, wasn’t so sure about this solution.

"Because management unilaterally created their solution in violation of the contract, neither APA nor the contract can guarantee the promised payment of the premium being offered," the APA said in a statement.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Kendall and Kylie Jenner introduce copycat clothing line, then pull it.

When Jenner sisters Kendall and Kylie introduced a vintage T-shirt collection in June, the backlash was swift. The Kendall + Kylie One of One shirts featured the faces of late rapper Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur as well as album artwork from Metallica and Pink Floyd, but this being the Kardashians/Jenners, the sisters faces and Instagram posts were imposed on the shirts. To top it off, the tops retailed for $125.

"These designs were not well thought out and we deeply apologize to anyone that has been upset and/or offended, especially to the families of the artists. We are huge fans of their music and it was not our intention to disrespect these cultural icons in any way. The tee shirts have been pulled from retail and all images have been removed. We will use this as an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and again, we are very sorry," the Jenners wrote in a statement on Twitter.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Skin clinic uses Resident Evil’s umbrella as its company logo.

Skin clinic uses Resident Evil’s umbrella as its company logo.
Image credit: Medcare Skin Centre

Resident Evil and skin care couldn’t be more opposite. However, the Medcare Skin Centre in Ho Chi Minh City managed to make a connection.

The skin clinic recently unveiled its new logo, which looks almost the same as the umbrella in Resident Evil. Although it wasn’t on purpose -- the clinic wrote on its Facebook page that it was “very surprised by this coincidence.”

Here’s a billboard advertisement of the company and its new logo:

 

A post shared by Geek Culture (@geek_culture) on Jun 4, 2017 at 7:03am PDT

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Airbnb’s creates and pulls insensitive “teepee” ad.

Airbnb’s creates and pulls insensitive “teepee” ad.
Image credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images

On May 30, Airbnb angered people after it launched an ad on its social media channels that many considered racially insensitive to Native American culture.

The post advertised a listing in Joshua Tree, Calif., for an “off-the-grid teepee” in “true Sioux style.” While Joshua Tree is nowhere near any Sioux territory, the incident also comes shortly after the protests at Standing Rock. 

"Airbnb is profiting off of racist stereotypes and that is unacceptable in a democratic society,", director of the Native Organizers Alliance and a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma Judith Le Blanc told BuzzFeed.

Other scholars and critics took to social media to share their disappointment and disgust with the campaign.

Shortly after the public backlash, Airbnb pulled the ad and apologized for the campaign. "We should not have used this language and we want to apologize to everyone for our poor judgement," an Airbnb spokesperson said in an email. "We have deleted these posts."

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Google shares the most misspelled words in the country, then misspells a word.

Google shares the most misspelled words in the country, then misspells a word.
Image credit: Google

In honor of Scripps National Spelling Bee in the U.S., Google released a map of the most misspelled words by state. The search engine discovered these words by finding out which words come up the most when people typed in “How to spell…”

While the words were somewhat disheartening -- with “Wisconsin” being Wisconsin’s most misspelled word, and the words liar, angel, sense and nanny also making the list -- it turned out, we’re not the only ones who struggle with spelling.

When Google initially released the state-by-state spelling breakdown -- it too had a spelling error. The word “tomorrow” was found to be the most misspelled in Arizona and Colorado. However, when Google put this on its map, one spelling of tomorrow had fewer letters than the other. It has since replaced the incorrect map.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Bar launches and removes “Pill Cosby” drink from menu.

Bar launches and removes “Pill Cosby” drink from menu.
Image credit: Caty Green | Twitter

A new Washington, D.C., cocktail bar called Diet Starts Monday unveiled a new drink called the Pill Cosby. After causing a commotion on Twitter, the cocktail -- a hibiscus drink topped with empty pills -- has since been removed from the menu. The bar’s owners, John Geiger and Davin Gentry, told the Washingtonian the drink was meant increase awareness of the dangers of date rape in bars. However, most people just found it distasteful and insensitive.

The bar publicly responded to people’s disapproval on Twitter.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Dove releases body wash bottles to match the shape of women’s bodies.

Dove releases body wash bottles to match the shape of women’s bodies.
Image credit: Dove

Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, which has been running for more than a decade, brings to light the importance of self-love and acceptance. From commercials to posters, the company portrays its message in typical advertising forms -- however, its most recent advertising efforts are steered toward its packaging.

The new campaign, called “Celebrate the Many Shapes and Sizes of Beauty,” has released limited-edition body wash bottles to match the shape of women’s bodies. The bottles come in six different sizes, from curvy and tall to petite and slim.

However, people aren’t quite catching on to it. They do think it’s pretty funny though, comparing Dove's efforts to syrup bottles and cartoon characters.  

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Adidas congratulates runners who “survived” the Boston Marathon.

Adidas congratulates runners who “survived” the Boston Marathon.
Image credit: Ulrich Baumgarten | Getty Images

As a brand, it’s important to double, triple and even quadruple check any content that you’re putting out. Especially if you’re a big brand such as Adidas.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened with a recent Adidas message. After the Boston Marathon, the company sent out an email to many of the runners who participated. But rather than congratulating them for finishing the 26-mile race, the company decided to applaud them for “surviving” the race. The subject line of the email read: “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”

Had this been any other sporting event, responses may have been different. But in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, people were not happy.

The company publicly apologized for its “insensitive” email.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

The Chainsmokers misspell “Pittsburgh” in a concert sign.

The Chainsmokers misspell “Pittsburgh” in a concert sign.
Image credit: Burak Cingi | Getty Images

Misspelling a word is easy -- and it’s the reason why we have spell check. Unfortunately, stage designers for a Chainsmokers concert didn’t do their due diligence.

During a sold-out show in Pittsburgh, the musical duo ended the show with a banner behind them that read “Pittsburg.” The musicians later apologized in a tweet for the spelling error, but have since deleted the post and any evidence of the mistake.

Of course, thanks to the internet -- nothing is really ever gone forever.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Nivea ad campaign says “White is purity.”

Nivea ad campaign says “White is purity.”
Image credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images

During a time of political discord in the U.S., with fake news and a rise in white extremist groups, you’d think brands would be especially cautious about the content they put on the internet.

Of course, some still don’t. Skin care company Nivea launched an ad campaign with the slogan “White is purity” -- and people were, unsurprisingly, not happy. In an attempt to promote its Invisible for Black and White deodorant, the ad was posted on Nivea’s Middle East Facebook page and showed an image of a woman with dark hair, dressed in white and sitting in a brightly lit room, with the words “White is purity” written over the picture.

The post stirred quite the commotion online, as people expressed their anger and disappointment over the ad, calling Nivea “racist” and “insensitive.” And to make matters worse, many right wing groups shared the spot.

The company pulled the ad and publicly apologized: “We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post. Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea.”

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

The Oscars Best Picture mix up.

The Oscars Best Picture mix up.
Image credit: YouTube

This early flop might be the most memorable of the year. But it wasn’t just that the entire cast of La La Land went onstage to accept Moonlight’s Best Picture award, but everything else around the debacle.

When Warren Beatty opened the envelope, paused and handed it off to Faye Dunaway, who without hesitation announced La La Land, we knew something was up. But the cameras kept rolling, the cast came onstage and the film director and executives began their acceptance speeches.

From the viewer’s standpoint, there’s clear confusion in the background as an Oscars employee gathers the red envelopes and on stage it's revealed that Moonlight is the true winner of Best Picture.

“There’s a mistake. Moonlight won Best Picture,” La La Land’s producer Jordan Horowitz said. “This is not a joke.”

Turns out, Beatty was given the wrong envelope -- which read “Emma Stone” for “Best Actress” -- because the Price Waterhouse Cooper accountant responsible for handing out the correct envelopes was too busy tweeting backstage. Still, this whole kerfuffle could have been avoided had it not been for several little mistakes.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Zara uses skinny models for a “curvy” campaign.

Zara uses skinny models for a “curvy” campaign.
Image credit: Zara

Sure, advertising is known for exaggerating the truth, but Zara’s “curvy” campaign didn’t so much exaggerate as it did confuse.

Debuting its new denim line for “curvy” women, the brand’s ad features two thin models standing side by side and looking back at the camera with the copy reading “Love Your Curves.” While the new line was supposed to be inclusive of all body types, people were upset with the advertising and its inherent irony.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

A Gorillaz tech set his password to “2017.”

A Gorillaz tech set his password to “2017.”
Image credit: Nasty Little Man

With all of the hacks today, you’d think people would be pretty cautious about their passwords. Unfortunately, that’s still not the case.

Before its official release, fans found a way to break into a Vimeo account related to the band “Gorillaz” and leak some of its new songs.

After a few song titles emerged online, registered with Phonographic Performance Ltd., Reddit users began Googling titles. One Reddit user, omegapro200, discovered the leaked track “Saturnz Barz” on the private Vimeo page of Gorillaz lighting technician Dylan Byrne. Another Reddit user, mrmoosechill, attempted to get into the Vimeo account, trying out different passwords and ultimately hitting the jackpot when he guessed “2017.”

Can we really call this hacking when the password was so easy to guess?

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Wheel of Fortune contestant guesses the wrong letter.

Wheel of Fortune contestant guesses the wrong letter.
Image credit: YouTube

We've seen plenty of disastrous fails on game shows such as Wheel of Fortune -- but this one might top the list.

On a March episode of Wheel of Fortune, a contestant was one letter away from victory. When guessing the last letter of Tennessee Williams's famous Pulitzer Prize-winning play, A Streetcar Named Desire, the contestant guessed "K" instead of "M" in the word "NA_ED."

The stupid mistake shook up the social media world, many viewers taking to Twitter to express their reactions to the contestant's facepalm moment.

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Ads run congratulating Republican leaders on now-aborted healthcare plan.

Ads run congratulating Republican leaders on now-aborted healthcare plan.
Image credit: YouTube

Some Republicans were a little too confident in their new healthcare reform bill that would have replaced the Affordable Care Act. In fact, one group got its commercials bragging about its passage ready to go.

Yet to their surprise, the bill did not pass ... but the commercials aired. During March Madness games Friday night, viewers were exposed to a spot celebrating the would-be reform.

Led by the right-leaning American Action Network, the ads thanked some of the political figures involved in the failed healthcare plan for their "promise and replacing the Affordable Care Act with a better health care you deserve."

The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017

Jewelry company puts up billboard that read, “It’s OK to throw rocks at girls.”

Jewelry company puts up billboard that read, “It’s OK to throw rocks at girls.”
Image credit: Kim Kelley | Twitter

This Asheville, N.C.-based jewelry store took puns a little too far.

On a billboard off highway I-240 near downtown Asheville, Spicer Greene Jewelers paid for a billboard which featured gems in a variety of colors. Sounds nice, right? Read on.

Over the image is text that reads: "Sometimes, it's OK to throw rocks at girls..."

The billboard caused upset in the town, as well as backlash on social media.

In response, the company apologized for its poor advertising choices on its Facebook page.

Spicer Greene Jewelers says it plans to change the billboard soon with another campaign, and has also vowed to donate 10 percent of its sales from the week of the incident to a local domestic violence shelter, it told local news network WLOS.

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  • The Biggest Facepalm Moments of 2017
  • 1. A Twitter contractor "accidentally" disabled President Donald Trump's account.
  • 2. Wish.com product images lead to social media furor
  • 3. American Airlines gives too many pilots vacation time over the holidays.
  • 4. Kendall and Kylie Jenner introduce copycat clothing line, then pull it.
  • 5. Skin clinic uses Resident Evil’s umbrella as its company logo.
  • 6. Airbnb’s creates and pulls insensitive “teepee” ad.
  • 7. Google shares the most misspelled words in the country, then misspells a word.
  • 8. Bar launches and removes “Pill Cosby” drink from menu.
  • 9. Dove releases body wash bottles to match the shape of women’s bodies.
  • 10. Adidas congratulates runners who “survived” the Boston Marathon.
  • 11. The Chainsmokers misspell “Pittsburgh” in a concert sign.
  • 12. Nivea ad campaign says “White is purity.”
  • 13. The Oscars Best Picture mix up.
  • 14. Zara uses skinny models for a “curvy” campaign.
  • 15. A Gorillaz tech set his password to “2017.”
  • 16. Wheel of Fortune contestant guesses the wrong letter.
  • 17. Ads run congratulating Republican leaders on now-aborted healthcare plan.
  • 18. Jewelry company puts up billboard that read, “It’s OK to throw rocks at girls.”
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