7 Marketing Disasters That Nearly Destroyed Their Companies
The success of a company is all about advertising. They’re not really selling a product: they are selling fear to customers who worry they will miss out on the next big thing. However, marketing sometimes goes too far and turns into a total fail. And that’s the lesson learned by these eight companies whose marketing disasters nearly destroyed their companies!
Hoover: This Plan Sucked
The basic method of profit is simple: bring in more money than you spend. However, the vacuum manufacturer Hoover once forgot this lesson and ended up paying quite the price!
Back in the early ’90s, Hoover ran a promotion for British customers: if they spent a hundred pounds or more on Hoover products, they’d get a free round-trip flight to America!
Everyone and their brother took advantage of this deal, and it ended up costing the company over fifty million dollars. And while the Hoover brand survived, the company ended up being sold after this fiasco.
Red Lobster: See Food Diet
Red Lobster is another company that forgot that marketing is meant to make the company money instead of cost the company money. Their real mistake, though, was underestimating the size of the average American stomach!
In the early 2000s, the company ran a simple promotion: all-you-can-eat food (including pricy items like crab legs) for $20. They gambled that people would stop after two or three crab legs — instead, people spent hours nomming on seafood and side items!
When the smoke cleared, the company had lost $3.3 million dollars in less than two months. Needless to say, they never tried the same “all-you-can-eat crab legs” strategy ever again!
McDonald’s Goes for the Gold
Sometimes, marketing mistakes start with good intentions. When McDonald’s decided to show its patriotic spirit during the 1984 Summer Olympics, America’s success equaled failure for this fast food franchise.
McDonald’s held a promotion where customers earned scratch-off cards with the name of an Olympic event on them, promising a free item to customers every time the United States earned an Olympic medal in that event: a free Big Mac for a gold medal, free fries for silver , and a free drink for bronze.
Unfortunately for McDonald’s, this was a banner year for the country, and America brought home a whopping 174 medals, almost half of them gold! The house that Ronald McDonald built had to deal with some serious financial repercussions, reportedly losing millions of dollars on the promotion.
When Dove Cries
Sometimes, bad marketing is more than just bad marketing — for example, when a company manages to completely squander the goodwill they had previously built up!
Dove is a great example of this. In its 13-year “Real Beauty” campaign, Dove spoke to the concerns of real women across the world. Then, in 2017 things got a bit weird and racist.
In a three-second video on Facebook that was supposed to be inclusive, Dove showed a black woman taking off her shirt and seemingly becoming a white woman. The unfortunate and unintended implication was that Dove helped transform a person of color into a white woman. Not exactly a positive message for the 21st century! The backlash was overwhelming.
New Coke: No, Thanks
Some of the mistakes on this list are obscure enough that you may never have heard of them before. This next marketing snafu, however, is the stuff of legend!
For years, Coca-Cola had dominated the soda scene. But in the mid-1980s, Pepsi was muscling in, and Coke felt they had to do something “new” to keep up.
Thus, Coca-Cola changed its famous formula and introduced “New Coke.” This was an almost instant disaster, and people around the world demanded the return of the Coke they knew and love.
“Coca-Cola Classic” returned that same year. Meanwhile, New Coke was never seen (or tasted) again, leaving its company with $30 million worth of unsold product!
Calvin Klein: Sex Doesn’t Sell
“Sex sells” has been an advertising mantra for decades. And Calvin Klein is a company whose advertisements often use beauty and sex to sell a variety of products.
However, the company decided to push things too far with its 1995 advertising campaign featuring print ads as well as one television commercial with models that appeared underage in provocative poses.
Basically, no one was amused: there were mass boycotts and even an FBI investigation before Calvin Klein took down their ads.
Hyundai: Death of a Salesman
It can be difficult to advertise the features of a car. After all, there are only so many ways you can say “high performance,” “fuel efficient,” and other buzzwords customers love to hear.
Hyundai tried something new in 2013: to show the clean emissions of their latest fuel cell car, the Hyundai iX35, they created an ad where a car owner tries (and fails) to take his own life!
Viewers of the ad were immediately disgusted. But it got worse when a blogger wrote about how her dad killed himself in the same manner. She published his suicide note and wrote about how irresponsible and hurtful the company was acting.
Once the blog post went viral, everyone wanted blood from Hyundai. Hyundai ended up removing the video, apologizing, and pledging that the world would never have to see their harmful commercial used to sell a vehicle.