You know those times you’re watching TV on a weekday evening, and you see a commercial so subtle you don’t even realize the next day that you’re singing the jingle? I often find myself humming along to the Blitz jingle, or what I imagine it to be. You know it’s good marketing when a company doesn’t have to beat you over the head with their product for you to remember it.
Some marketing strategies (check out Family Guy’s Wacky Waving Arm Flailing Inflatable Tube Man commercial) are so obnoxious you wonder if they’re secretly advertising for Tylenol. If you’re in sales, learn a lesson on what not to do from these 10 marketing fails below.
1.) While competing against Wendy’s in 2003 for the no. 2 spot in the list of U.S. burger chains, Burger King resurrected their character, “The King.” A number of creepy commercials ensued in which the King would pop up in people’s windows or in their beds and offer them a Burger King burger. Customers reacted negatively to the character with stalker-like tendencies, and the burger company executed the King in 2011.
2.) 1985 brought about the production of New Coke, a slightly sweeter version of the 99 year old soda formula. Americans hated the new product and 3 months later, TV anchor Peter Jennings would interrupt General Hospital to announce the comeback of Classic Coke.
3.) Bic’s new product, “Bic for her,” featured pens designed to fit a woman’s hand. Probably the biggest downfall with this marketing scheme was the fact that many female Bic customers claimed they had no idea BIC’s other products were intended only for men.
4.) In 2010, Gap surprised customers by debuting a new logo. Louise Callagy, a spokesperson for the San Francisco based Gap, stated that the logo change was intended to take the brand from its “classic, American design, to modern, sexy, cool.” The rebranding received heavy backlash from customers, who found it anything but sexy. Gap fell under customer fire via Facebook and Twitter, and after a week reverted to its original design.
5.) In this ad, not only are Skittles dangerously delicious, they’re also plain dangerous. Skittles created a commercial portraying a man with the “skittles touch,” playing off of the story of King Midas. Things take a darker tone when the man talks about accidentally turning a man on a bus into a pile of Skittles.
6.) GM raised some eyebrows with their suicidal robot commercial that played during the 2007 NFL Super Bowl. The commercial portrays a robot with human-like emotions that is fired from a GM factory for making a trivial mistake on the assembly line. The robot works a number of demeaning jobs but is constantly affronted with the sight of GM vehicles. It decides to end its life by jumping off a bridge, spurring the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to issue a statement about the dangerous and insensitive messages being sent through the commercial. After meeting with the group, GM removed the robot’s jump from the commercial.
7.) Using the hash tag, #slicksnacker, Oreo asked fans on Twitter to tweet if they ever sneak Oreo cookies into the movie theaters. AMC Theaters quickly responded with a strong, “NOT COOL, COOKIE.”
8.) Amazon got in trouble for posting a billboard of their Kindle product. The first page of Mocking Jay, the 3rd installment to Susan Collin’s Hunger Game Series, was visible on the Kindle and accidentally revealed key plot points from the 1st two books; fans everywhere were disappointed by the spoilers.
9.) McDonald’s #McDstories Twitter campaign was meant to encourage positive reviews of the company, but instead brought about a Twitter bashing session. Tweets ranged from becoming ill after eating at McDonalds to using illegal substances while working there. In a few swift minutes McDonalds showed everyone not all publicity is good publicity.
10.) JCPenney launched “Fair and Square Pricing” as a part of their marketing campaign. The company thought that customers would flock to shop at a store that offered everyday low prices as opposed to special sales. The marketing team at JCPenney had apparently never heard of TLC’s Extreme Couponing. Not surprisingly, many bargain-hunting customers were simply uninterested in the store once they removed their sales and promotions.