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Biggest Marketing Blunders

Every marketer understands the struggle of having to undergo the creation new campaigns throughout their organization’s lifetime. Sometimes new campaigns are made for the release of a new product, trying to capture a different niche, gain additional stakeholders, or simply to stay fresh and ahead of competitors. Regardless of its purpose, the ultimate goal is to gain consumer attention so they choose your brand every time! As time goes on, campaigns are falling into a repetitive, traditional pattern, making it difficult to stand out in markets that are so heavily populated by competitors with similar products and services. Marketers see the trends happening, and realize the importance of being bold and taking risks. While some of these daring campaigns go down in marketing history as brilliant and revolutionary, others are remembered in the marketing Hall of Shame. While none of these marketers achieved their desired goals, they definitely had a lasting impact on the public and will be a great example of what not to do for future marketers to reference.

1. New Coke

Photo credit: CBS News

In April 1985, Coke decided to make the first change to its formula in nearly 100 years as an attempt to counteract some of their consumers shifting to Pepsi after their “Generation Pepsi” campaign in the mid 1960’s. Pepsi offered consumers a taste similar to Coca-Cola, but slightly sweeter; this posed a threat to Coke losing a portion of their consumer base who preferred the subtle change in taste. When Coca-Cola decided to alter its beloved soft drink, people were furious. The unofficially named “New Coke” ultimately ended up failing, and Coca-Cola switched back to its original formula a few years later, only to be greeted with open arms by all its loyal, long-time-loving, Coca-Cola consumers.

2. Victoria’s Secret – The Perfect “Body” Campaign

Photo credit: Business Insider

In the fall of 2014, Victoria’s Secret released a campaign called “The Perfect ‘Body.'” The marketers failed to realize that most people were unaware of the names of the bras their company sold, and while their reference to “Body” was about the type of bra they were promoting, most women thought it was about their bodies in comparison to those of the models. The company faced extreme backlash from women angered by the impossible standards the company was calling perfect, rather than promoting self-love and acceptance of their own bodies. Victoria’s Secret thankfully heard their consumers’ complaints rather quickly, and even though they kept the advertising pictures the same of their famous models, they changed the slogan to “A Body for Every Body.”

3. Susan Boyle’s Album Party Hashtag

Photo credit: Yahoo!

Susan Boyle became an internationally recognized singer overnight due to starring on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. A few months later, she was in the midst of releasing a new album accompanied by the hashtag #susanalbumparty. When broken down, it does not exactly read “Susan album party,” and was certainly not the right phrase she would have wanted flying around Twitter to promote her artistic work. The hashtag was changed to #SusanBoylesAlbumParty briefly after the team realized their unfortunate choice in words to be mashed together, but everyone remembered what kind of party hashtag they had seen before.

4. Bloomingdale’s “Spike your Best Friend’s Eggnog when They’re Not Looking” Campaign

Photo credit: Wall Street Journal

A page in the Bloomingdale’s November 2015 catalog pictured a man looking at his female friend, who was laughing with her head pointed in the opposite direction of him. The words between them? “Spike your Best Friend’s Eggnog when They’re Not Looking.” The company was immediately accused of referencing date rape, with viewers drawing extreme attention to the context of the ad. Bloomingdale’s apologized quickly after for their “inappropriate and poor taste” with regards to its publication, without any reasoning as to why they allowed it in the first place.

5. McDonald’s #McDStories

Photo credit: The Next Web

Photo credit: HyperVocal

McDonald’s created this hashtag in 2012 in hopes of Twitter users sharing heart-warming stories of their experiences at the fast food restaurants across the globe…and realized they were getting some pretty unsettling results rather quickly. Mickey D’s pulled the campaign only two hours after launching it because it was doing causing more harm to their reputation than good, which was the opposite of what they had anticipated. While their intentions were in the right place, they did not look at their brand in the eyes of their stakeholders, which is typically a go-to place for a greasy burger and not a night on the town. Even though the campaign was cancelled quickly, Twitter users are always quick to jump on a bad hashtag bandwagon, with countless funny tweets bashing the company still available for all to see.

Each of these companies’ marketers had their hearts in the right place on the mission of bettering their public image and expanding their market share (except maybe Bloomingdale’s). The reason for each of these companies’ failures was because they did not see how the ads might appear to the stakeholders viewing the advertisements. When creating a new campaign, it is always important to ask for outside views and run tests and surveys on the ad before it ever has a chance to hurt your brand while it is in action. Not only do you have to come up with an entirely new and different campaign to promote the company after the release of the faulty campaign, you have to repair all the damage the previous one caused. If you ensure the testing of your campaign ideas from outside sources, research extensively, and do the opposite of these brands, your marketing campaign should have significantly more success than these brands and lead you that much closer to attaining your business’s goals!