What To Take From The Most Ill-Advised Marketing Strategies Ever
In recent years, marketing has played an increasingly vital role in generating interest, enquiries and ultimately revenue for small and large businesses alike.
Over the last three years in particular, with an especially fragmented audience that was not always reachable via traditional sales pipelines and channels, an effective digital marketing strategy could help make the difference.
However, marketing, like any other tool in business, needs to be in a complex balance of being free and flexible enough to adapt to the sales world around them but also built around fundamental principles in the same way the rest of the business is.
If not, your marketing campaign can end up like this list of some of the most ill-advised strategies ever imposed.
Pepsi Live For Now Moments Anthem
Also known as that time Kendall Jenner stopped police brutality and a riot with a can of Pepsi, Live For Now is a legendary example of choosing your subject matter carefully when attempting to market to younger, socially conscious consumers with cause marketing.
The most charitable readings see it as one with its heart in the right place but making the mistake of putting the advert in front of the message, with a celebrity endorsement from someone whose brand is shallow consumerism and a message that omits the complexities of the situations it seeks to profit from.
It was called out immediately for co-opting the aesthetics of social justice and specifically, Black Lives Matter to market their soft drink and would be pulled within a day, although it is still often referenced to this day.
If you want to apply cause marketing, make sure it goes beyond a campaign and your actions are as strong as your words.
McDonald’s Dollar Menu Guy Banner Adverts
In 2005, digital marketing was in its relative infancy, with Google AdSense only having just celebrated its second birthday.
Mcdonald’s, a fast-food company that at the time was facing serious criticism due to the release of the film Super Size Me, wanted to change their image and appeal to young adults with banner ads offering cheap food and patronising use of mid 2000s slang.
The problem was in their use of the term “I’d hit it”. It was meant to be a reference to a double cheeseburger offer, but implied something far more amorous.
Despite this, due to just how early this happened in internet history, it was mostly reported in small blogging circles with a tone of pure confusion and incredulity. The ads were even still running on some websites as late as 2007.
The lesson from this is obvious; using youth slang only works if it feels part of an authentically youthful campaign, and do your research before you use emojis and slang terms that have a very different connotation than you may expect.
Hoover’s Free Flights Promotion
One of the most infamously ill-conceived marketing tactics of all time, Hoover’s promise of two free flights to the United States with the purchase of any vacuum cleaner that cost over £100 sounded like a dream come true, but for Hoover, it quickly became an inescapable nightmare.
In one sense, this campaign was exceptionally successful; 300,000 people applied for the tickets and millions of vacuum cleaners were sold. But despite their exceptionally complex process, enough people applied to make Hoover worry about their ability to honour it.
Eventually, this led to the creation of a pressure group, which led to a class-action lawsuit and eventually Hoover of Europe itself was brought by Candy in 1995.
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