Five live experiences that didn't quite go to plan in 2015

While this year was relatively disaster free for event profs, there were of course a number of events and activations that backfired on organisers. Event explores five of the biggest.

Oktoberfest London was cancelled after its first session
Oktoberfest London was cancelled after its first session

Oktoberfest at Tobacco Dock

The details of what really happened on 8 October - the first day of Oktoberfest UK at London's Tobacco Dock - are still unclear, however the next day, the event's other scheduled dates were cancelled. Tobacco Dock said the decision to halt the event was was due to a failure to implement the venue’s operational and safety guidelines, while Oktoberfest UK Limited said the decision to cancel the event was made by "the venue, Tobacco Dock", and did not agree with the decision.

Regardless of who was at fault, Oktoberfest UK appointed joint administrators and announced its insolvency in late November. Guests who attended the event’s opening night will not be granted their money back, while those who had bought tickets for the succeeding three days have been asked to file for a refund application.

Amazon’s Nazi-style subway trains

Eyebrows were raised in New York in November after Amazon’s immersive advertising campaign was deemed a little too Nazi by many commentators. The activation, which was promoting new series The Man in High Castle on the city’s subway, turned carriages into 1940s-style wartime trains, featuring floor-to-ceiling posters and decor inspired by the Third Reich and the Japanese Imperial flag.

Unsurprisingly, the stunt received much criticism online, although it was deemed appropriate by the Metropolitan Transit Authority as a ‘commercial’ activity.

Labour’s pink bus

In one of several General Election stunts that went down as tragic PR misfires, many cited the Labour Party’s magenta-coloured bus tour as an ill-conceived gaffe. The 16-seater automobile was the brainchild of deputy leader Harriet Harman, and it was designed to target female voters in locations such as ‘the school gates, workplaces, shopping centres, universities, town centres and on the doorstep’.

The colour choice of the vehicle came under fire from critics, with many branding it is as patronising and gender-stereotyping. Conservative MP Caroline Dinenage said: "Getting Harriet Harman to drive around the country in a pink van to try and attract the female vote is as patronising as it gets. This is clearly just another divisive gimmick that the electorate will see through."

Top Gear Live

Organisers of Top Gear Live were put in every event planner’s nightmare scenario when their top talent was fired over that infamous "fracas". The Top Gear Live tour, which featured shrinking cars, LED-covered vehicles and the world's largest 'Cage of Death', commenced on 13 February yet it was postponed at the end of March following Jeremy Clarkson’s suspension from the show.

However this tale of violence in the workplace ended well for organiser Live Nation and BBC Worldwide, which rebranded the show as Clarkson, Hammond and May Live and launched it again on 22 May. All BBC references were removed from the line-up and Clarkson was allowed to join his co-presenters on tour.

The revamp news hit Event’s inbox on 1 April, leading the editorial team to question its validity all morning.

Paddy Power’s immigrant lorry

Clearly not satisfied with its marketing label of ‘controversial’, bookmaker Paddy Power tried on ‘offensive’ for size in July with a lorry-based PR stunt from Dover to Calais. The green truck was branded with the phrase 'Immigrants, jump in the back! (but only if you’re good at sport)' and featured the faces of "imported" international sports stars playing in England - and bizarrely, the Scottish Andy Murray.

While the campaign made its mark in the marketing industry press, the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland was having none of it and subsequently banned the ad for causing offence.

More: Top five event disasters of 2014

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