5 of the Biggest Marketing Failures

Have you ever walked by someone with a really bad tattoo and thought why would they do that? Well in the marketing world, we have witnessed a few things just like that…only these companies were subject to an entire world of judgment, not just a passer-byer on the streets. A round of applause, and a standing ovation are in order, because these companies almost had to plan it to mess up this bad:


1- The top of the Whipp list list goes, without a doubt, to LifeLock. Start clapping now. Sure…maybe the point was to prove to prospective clients that CEO Todd Davis was confident in his company…Yet…most people just believed it was imprudent of him for publicly giving out his social security number. It’s like saying “Oh…hi there identity thieves, please steal my identity first?” Did we mention that his identity was stolen at least 13 times AND LifeLock was fined 12 million dollars for deceptive advertising?
2- Cartoon Network Boston bomb scare of 2007…Needless to elaborate much more, the title says it all. Yes, that is right…Cartoon Network (Turner Broadcasting System and Interference Inc.) lost over 2 million on a guerilla-marketing plan gone wrong in 2007. Cartoon Network placed almost 40 battery powered light boards around Boston to promote “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” The light bright boxes, however looked like bombs and the two men Cartoon Network hired to place them around the town were arrested for the perceived threat to the city.  The general manager and executive vice president of the network, Jim Samples, well he stepped down directly following the bad call.
3- McDonalds-McAfrika was first created 2002 in Norway (a very rich country)….not to mention while South Africa was in the middle of a famine (almost 12 million people were starving). Maybe Mccyd’s didn’t plan on it turning out as it did, but can you say impervious? Oblivious even…BECAUSE they tried it again during the 2008 Olympics…and as the public went into uproar the first time, the second time was just as bad. Personally, we think McDonalds has been trying to top it ever since with their “I’d hit it,” slogan in 2007. Could someone in an industry as HUGE as McDonalds not have simply asked what “I’d hit it,” actually meant? Then again, it still wasn’t as big of a fail as the McAfrika. Keep trying McDonalds…that next huge fail is out there.
4- Diet Pepsi Slim. Pepsi claimed these thin cans marketed during a New York fashion week were “in celebration of beautiful, confident women.” The world heard “in celebration of beautiful, confident (and super skinny) women.” Between eating disorders, obesity, and the generally ruthless outlook on how society perceives women who are not toothpick thin as is, the campaign for an ultra in shape Pepsi failed, miserably. Way to go Pepsi, you finally showed up the “New Coke,” fail.
5- Vespa leads on a bad market. Vespa decided that it would be a great idea to send out reps to flirt in restaurants and bars. When the Vespa flirts were asked for their personal phone numbers, they would slip them a number for a Vespa dealership. Needless to mention…it was a bad idea…Hopeless girls and guys waited at home for the right time to call that someone special they thought they just met and as they wait anxiously through the ringing phone, a Vespa salesperson answers. EWWW cold shouldered by Vespa.


Add to our list. What is your favorite marketing fail?

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