Learn from These Marketing Mistakes

Coke. Ford. NetFlix. All of these major brands have been propelled to success through a great product and fabulous marketing, but they’ve also made some major missteps along the way. From losing money to really ticking people off, their marketing fails cost them big. Even if your company is nowhere near as big as McDonalds, you can still learn from their mistakes:

What’s a small business owner to do? Inspired by Watch Mojo’s outstanding video content, we’ve outlined how you can avoid these top errors:

10: McDonald’s and the 1984 Olympics

Through a well-publicized series of television commercials, McDonald’s promised Americans free Big Macs, fries and sodas for each US Olympic medal. The USSR ultimately boycotted the games, and the US won 174 medals, far more than the Double Arches analysts had anticipated.

The Moral: People love freebies, so make sure you’re not going to be liable for more than you can afford.

9: Facebook Beacon

Way back in 2007 when only a fraction of Facebook’s one billion members were active users of the network, the social media network launched “Beacon,” a program where your activity around the web would be sold to advertisers. The initiative was quickly removed after public outcry, but it left a bad taste in the mouth of many personal privacy advocates.

Take Away: Don’t sell or share your prospects information. Ensure your privacy policy is transparent. It can be hard to rebuild trust once it’s lost.

8: Burger King’s Creepy Monarch

Several years ago Burger King went for a bold re-launch of their King Mascot, portrayed in television advertising as the world’s biggest creep. While the content went viral, it didn’t perk up the fast food chain’s sales.

What We Learned: Humorous content can gain tons of social shares, but casting your brand as a stalker probably won’t have a positive impact on your bottom line.

7. Snicker’s Mr. T Advertisement

In this ad, Mr. T hunts down an effeminate speed walker and tries to teach him how to “be a man” by shooting candy at him. Chances are slim that you ever saw this ad on television, because it was quickly pulled due to accusations of discrimination.

The Moral: Don’t make fun of or offend large groups of people who buy your product on a regular basis.

6. Snicker’s Touch the Rainbow Campaign

This series of advertisements featured a King Midas-inspired individual who was cursed with gift of turning everything he touched into candy. Towards the end of the commercial, the protagonist admits he killed a man on the bus just by shaking his hand. The chilling admission didn’t go over well, and the brand quickly swapped it out for far less upsetting commercials starring cute cats.

Take Away: Some brands can get away with dark and edgy humor. Others, like the manufacturers of brightly-colored fruit candy, just can’t.

5. AYDs Appetite Suppressent Candy

Nothing sounds better than an appetite-suppressing candy that will help you lose weight, right? That is, unless the name is a homonym with a deadly virus that results in rapid, unhealthy weight loss.

What We Learned: Research your brand name, slogans and hashtags carefully.

4. Honda Asimo

A robot designed to help individuals with mobility issues perform daily tasks, Asimo was greatly hyped before the production demonstration, during which it proceeded to fall down a flight of stairs.

The Moral: Test your products thoroughly before launching.

3. Netflix Qwikster Rebranding

When Netflix chose to focus on digital videos in 2011 and push their DVD rental by mail over to a separate brand, they lost so many subscribers their market cap fell by 300% in a period of months.

Take Away: Listen to your customers before making any major rebranding decisions.

2. Ford Edsel

Way back in 1957, Ford built tons of hype around the release of their new vehicle, the Edsel. It turned out to be an enormous failure because the mediocre vehicle just couldn’t live up to the hype. Ford ended up losing over $400 million, which is over 3 billion today when adjusted for inflation.

What we Learned: Building buzz is ideal, but too much buzz can leave consumers disappointed over good or mediocre products.

1. The New Coke

In 1985, Coca Cola had majority market share, but they decided to launch a new flavor. The public just wasn’t interested, and the product was available for less than two months. The marketing fail wasn’t entirely bad though. So much press was generated over the issue, sales jumped for their original flavor.

The Moral: If it isn’t broken, don’t try and fix it.