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Is this the most embarrassing design fail ever?

Anak Malaysia
(Image credit: iQIYI)

We may have seen more than a few unfortunate design blunders over the years, but last year gifted us one that truly hit a bum note – and we're still giggling. Back in September, a Chinese streaming service was forced to apologise for an embarrassing Malaysia Day poster that was, shall we say, rather easily misread. Read on for our original story...

The design is supposed to read 'Anak Malaysia' (which translates as 'Child of Malaysia'), and was designed to promote local shows available to stream for free during Malaysia Day 2020. But the phrase was given a stylised typographical treatment to incorporate the crescent and star of the Malaysian flag, resulting in some, er, legibility issues. Perhaps the designers should have played it safe with one of our best free fonts

That's right, it looks like it says 'Anal Malaysia'. And is if that wasn't enough, it also appears to feature a squatting figure between the two words. Quite how this made it through design meetings, we can't imagine (were there meetings? Did anyone see it other than the designer?), but it has caused quite a rumpus on Twitter.

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The streaming service was forced to respond to the backlash, offering a light-hearted apology (below) titled 'Let us explain'. "We saw your reactions on our campaign logo," it reads, "and… we wanted to confirm that it’s ‘Anak Malaysia’ and nothing else!"

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While we're pleased to know that the design fail was a mistake, we'd still love to know exactly what the designers were thinking – and how it slipped through the net. We're not sure we'd call iQIY's words a complete explanation – but perhaps we're being anal.

iQIY (opens in new tab) isn't the first company to pull an unfortunate design fail. Remember when Australian Made's new logo was scrapped for its uncanny resemblance to a certain virus you may have heard of? Still, not every design blunder deserves to be flushed away – here are 12 design fails that were so bad they were actually good

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Daniel Piper
Daniel Piper

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).