12 Unforgettable Marketing Disasters • MetDaan

12 Unforgettable Marketing Disasters

marketing

Marketing is a field of innovation and ideas which involves taking risks both in terms of investment and messages conveyed. It takes a lot of nous, know-how and gut feeling to deliver the desired effect with a campaign, and it is impossible to ever know how a promotion is going to fare for sure.

In that sense, as in any other field, there have been numerous marketing disasters over the years which remain unforgettable both for the public and for experts in the field. These are the twelve greatest ones in the United States and Britain.

1. Coca-Cola MagiCans

In the summer of 1990, the people at Coke launched their biggest-ever marketing campaign ip to that point: MagiCans. The idea was to put random amounts of money — from $1 to $500, all in cash — in cans and have it pop up when people opened the right one. Sounds fun, right?

Coca-Cola MagiCans

Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Wrong. MagiCans were a disaster. The cans containing money had to be balanced out with water to feel right, but they still leaked – the result was soggy, foul-smelling cash which the press enjoyed mocking. Coke tried to run damage control ads in newspapers, but stopped the promotion early, with only 200,000 of the 750,000 cans distributed.

MagiCans were a disaster. The cans containing money had to be balanced out with water to feel right, but they leaked.

Source: The Coca-Cola Company

2. American Airlines AAirpasses

Back in 1981, the marketing department for American Airlines came up with a fantastic idea to drum up business: offer lifetime passes for all-you-can-fly first-class travel for a hefty, upfront fee of $250,000. Passengers could bring a friend along for an extra $150,000.

American Airlines AAirpasses

Source: Facebook | American Airlines

Only 66 people took them up on the offer, and the airline has been cursing their decision ever since.

Some fliers cost the company more than $1 million a year. One reportedly flew a round-trip, Chicago to London, 16 times in a month. American raised the price to $600,000, then to $1.01 million, before stopping their sale in 1994.

Only 66 people took them up on the offer, but American has been cursing their decision ever since.

Source: Facebook | American Airlines

The AAirpasses cost American so much money, they assigned investigators to look into each AAirpass holder to find any reason at all why they might be legally able to revoke the pass.

As you can imagine, time spent in court has added up, and it all could have been prevented with a little forethought.

The AAirpasses cost American so much money, they assigned investigators to look into each AAirpass holder to find any reason at all why they might be legally able to revoke the pass.

Source: Facebook | American Airlines

3. Hoover’s Free Flights Promotion

In 1992, the British appliance maker’s warehouses were overflowing with washing machines and vacuums they were a little too desperate to move. It led to an unbelievably good deal for consumers, and a disaster for Hoover.

Hoover's Free Flights Promotion

Source: Facebook | Nicci Tangora

The idea was to give away two round-trip tickets to Europe when anybody spent at least 100 pounds on Hoover products. When then they opened it up to flights to the U.S., and all hell broke loose.

Hoover expected to make some of the money back through fine print and upselling extras, but eventually couldn’t keep up with the cost or the demand.

The idea was to give away two round-trip tickets to Europe when anybody spent 100 pounds on Hoover products. Then they opened it up to flights to the U.S., and all hell broke loose.

Source: The Marketingblog

The company’s back stock didn’t move as expected because customers would just buy the cheapest vacuum they could. They eventually had to staff more shifts in the factories in order to produce the more affordable items around the clock.

Thousands of customers ended up taking Hoover to court, although 220,000 people did eventually go on a Hoover holiday. When the dust settled, the company was out around $60 million, and three executives lost their jobs.

The back stock didn't move because people just bought the cheapest vacuum they could, so the company had to staff more shifts in the factories to make them around the clock.

Source: Twitter | @Aerolinas365

4. Red Lobster’s Endless Snow Crab Legs

In 2003, Red Lobster found that out the hard way that they should never, ever bet against America’s appetite when they introduced their Endless Snow Crab Legs promotion.

 Red Lobster's Endless Snow Crab Legs

Source: Facebook | Red Lobster

“It wasn’t the second helping, it was the third that hurt,” said one executive. “And the fourth.”

With prices of crab at an all-time high, the company bled cash, losing $3.3 million in just seven weeks and Red Lobster’s president lost her job over the shambles.

5. Starbucks’ #RaceTogether

Although trying to engage instead of staying silent on a major social issue should always be a good idea, Starbucks #RaceTogether campaign was a major public relations disaster.

Starbucks' #RaceTogether

Source: Starbucks

With race relations plastered all over the headlines in 2015, Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, encouraged baristas to invite customers to talk about race.

With race relations plastered all over the headlines in 2015, Starbucks' CEO, Howard Schultz, encouraged baristas to invite customers to talk about race.

Source: Starbucks

#RaceTogether faced some harsh backlash almost immediately, with Schultz himself attacked relentlessly on social media.

Within days, Starbucks put a merciful end to #RaceTogether. Schultz seemed unfazed. “We made a tactical mistake. So what?” he told Fast Company. “We’re moving forward.”

#RaceTogether faced some harsh backlash almost immediately, with Schultz himself attacked relentlessly on social media.

Source: Starbucks

6. Skittles America Mix

What the Skittles executives didn’s realize is that their America Mix from red, white and blue candy can also be mistaken for a French, British, Norwegian, Czech and, of course, Russian mixes.

Skittles America Mix

Source: Reddit | HappyGoblin

It’s also not the only Skittles’ gimmick to land the company in hot water.

For the 2017 Pride Month, Skittles U.K. ditched their colors and sold white pastilles, saying, “Only one rainbow matters this weekend… Pride’s.” While some saw it as a nice gesture, others pointed out that all-white candy wasn’t the most diverse message Skittles could have sent.

And it's not even Skittles' most recent gimmick to run into trouble.

Source: Facebook | Skittles UK

7. Kendall Jenner And Pepsi Save The World

If 2016 was bad for protests, early 2017 was absolutely nuts. Who would have thought it might be a bad idea to capitalize off of all the tear gas clouds using a reality TV star? Clearly, Pepsi thought it was a terrific plan!

Kendall Jenner And Pepsi Save The World

Source: YouTube | Kendall and Kylie

Coke’s rivals shelled out for a two-plus minute commercial that got five times more dislikes than likes on YouTube, with the words “tone-deaf” coming to a lot of people’s minds after watching it.

Coke's rival really pepper sprayed themselves with this one, shelling out for a two-plus minute commercial that got five times more dislikes on YouTube than it got likes.

Source: Twitter | @BerniceKing

People understandably despised the idea of Kendall Jenner soothing the angry masses by handing a cop a cold Pepsi, and the ad was widely scorned, mocked, and photoshopped.

People despised the idea of Kendall Jenner soothing the angry masses by handing a cop a cold Pepsi, and why wouldn't they?

Source: Twitter | @JosephKahn

8. The Arch Deluxe

What New Coke and its MagiCans were for Coca-Cola, Arch Deluxe was for McDonald’s. Trying to keep its menu fresh, McDonald’s introduced the Arch Deluxe as the “burger with the grown-up taste” in 1996. It involved the largest-ever fast food promotion in history, estimated between $150 million and $200 million. It eventually flopped.

The Arch Deluxe

Source: PCMode

The bizarre, yet incredibly expensive campaign promoted the “grown-up taste” by juxtaposing it with kids who hated the burger.

That expensive ad campaign was just bizarre, showing off the "grown-up taste" with kids who hated the burger.

Source: Strange Kids Club

9. Mountain Dew’s Naming Blunder

In 2012, Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen came up with a new Mountain Dew flavor and asked their fans to help name their fresh product online. Perhaps not unexpectedly, it didn’t take long for internet trolls to hijack the campaign with ridiculous suggestions.

Mountain Dew pulled the plug on the naming contest not long after, having learned an important lesson about the internet.

It didn't take long for internet trolls to hijack the campaign with ridiculous, and often offensive, suggestions.

Source: Videodrome | Union Video Game Forum

10. LifeLock

Standing behind your product is a great, classic marketing gimmick, but LifeLock’s CEO took that way too far, and the campaign backfired heavily and repeatedly. Trying to show how confident he was in his company, Todd Davis put his real, actual Social Security Number in the company’s ads.

10

Source: Stryker Investigation Services

Over the next few years, Todd had his identity stolen not once, not twice, but 13 times. He didn’t even find out about most of the thefts until he got his credit report and found multiple collection agencies on his tail.

11

Source: MFI Miami

Having Todd’s identity stolen so many times opened LifeLock up to a charge of deceptive advertising, and the FTC didn’t hesitate, imposing a $12 million fine on the company. Fast forward five years, they still hadn’t recovered, and the FTC fined them yet again, this time for a whopping $100 million.

All that sounds bad enough, right? Turns out putting that info in an ad was even worse than you'd think.

Source: WatchPoint

11. Ghost In The Shell’s #IAmMajor Campaign

The live-action version of an anime classic Ghost in the Shell was promoted by a teaser featuring the film’s star, Scarlett Johansson, saying “I am hunted. I am the hunter. I am Major.” It directed viewers to a website where they could make their own #IAmMajor memes and share them on social media.

Ghost In The Shell's #IAmMajor Campaign

Source: Twitter | @Nerdizismus

The sci-fi action flick was already surrounded with controversy regarding Johansson’s casting, however, with many fans being upset about a white American taking over a classic Japanese role. Many hijacked the #IAmMajor promotion and made their feelings known.

The big problem, of course, is that Ghost in the Shell already had controversy surrounding ScarJo's casting.

Source: Twitter | @Authoroux

When the movie bombed with audiences and critics alike, many used memes to pile on. Although Ghost in the Shell probably didn’t bomb solely because poor marketing and questionable casting choices, they sure didn’t help.

And when the movie bombed with audiences and critics alike, people were quick to use the memes to pile on, too.

Source: Twitter | @ser_arroyo

12. Sony’s ‘White Is Coming’ Campaign

Until 2006, Sony’s handheld game system, the PSP, only came in black. Then they decided to give their loyal gamers another option: a white PSP. If you wonder how that could have possibly gone wrong, the answers is on this billboard.

 Sony's 'White Is Coming' Campaign

Source: Blogger’s Block

Even though this “horrifically ill-advised” ad only appeared in the Netherlands, it was the reaction in the U.S. that doomed it.

Sony initially defended it as an image “intended solely to highlight the contrast” between the black and white consoles, but within days the entire campaign was scrapped.

From: diply

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