top of page
Articles Library

A Closer Look At High Profile Failures

Analysing Catastrophic Marketing Mistakes

Smart marketing professionals will spend a great deal of time studying campaigns of the past in order to recreate the success. Though, there is also a great deal that can be learned from studying failures. Many large, otherwise successful companies have come up with brilliant ideas, only to have the campaign backfire in their faces. In some cases, it is obvious why the strategy failed, but on other occasions, it can be a bit of a mystery.

Let’s take a look at marketing campaigns that exploded catastrophically, study them, and try and understand exactly what went wrong.

The New York Times

The New York Times operates based on subscriptions. It is, therefore, imperative that customers are encouraged to keep paying a monthly fee. It is just as imperative to try and recover customers that have decided to unsubscribe. In 2011 a fairly straightforward idea was concocted. If a subscriber cancels, that person would automatically be sent an email. The email stated, plainly, that if they renewed their subscription immediately they would receive a 30% discount.

Anyone thinking through the idea for just a few minutes will immediately realise what the problem is. Yes, the campaign is effectively rewarding those that decide to leave, rather than rewarding those that stay. Once word got out about this backward approach the outrage was swift, and The New York Times took a reputation hit of epic proportions.

The lesson here is simple; rewarding loyalty should be the priority, no matter what sort of business model is being utilised. Bingo for real money sites understands this principle very well.

New Coke

This marketing disaster is well known. In 1985 Pepsi hit the market, and it turned out that virtually everyone preferred the taste of the beverage to Coke. So, in a desperate attempt to secure the market, New Coke was developed. New Coke had a new taste, comparable to Pepsi, with the idea being that those who preferred the taste could stay loyal.

Word got out that the Coke everyone loved for so many years was suddenly being replaced, and outrage followed. It turned out that no one wanted New Coke, and public focus quickly shifted to how the Coca-Cola Company was doing away with something iconic.

The drastic change by Coca-Cola was certainly a poor strategy. New Coke should have been marketed as an alternative, not a replacement.

Bud Light

Perhaps the biggest marketing blunder in history, Bud Light decided to do something so ill-conceived that it boggles the mind. In 2015 a new slogan started to appear on bottles, stating that the drink could remove the word ‘no’ from the vocabulary. The marketers claimed that the slogan didn’t specifically refer to sex, but the general public disagreed wholeheartedly. The backlash was severe, and Bud Light quickly tried to undo the damage. But it took years to fix a shattered corporate reputation.

It can indeed be successful to toe the line as far as controversy is concerned. But in this case, the topic of rape and sexual assault is best left alone.



Commenting has been turned off.

If you enjoyed this article, receive free email updates!

Thanks for subscribing!

Join 20,000 subscribers who receive our newsletter with
resources, events and articles

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page