Customer Experience News & Trends

6 worst marketing train wrecks of 2013

Some companies fell flat on their faces in 2013. Here are some whose marketing campaigns went off the rails of good sense for your New Year’s rubbernecking pleasure. 

1. The ‘Social Media’ train wreck

Twitter and Facebook have become essential tools for companies, giving them a fast, cheap way to promote products and collect instantaneous feedback from their customers. The fast pace of social media makes it a great tool for your business. The downside: If you make a mistake, you have almost no time to correct it before customers find it and destroy you for it.

A sure way to shoot yourself in the foot on social media is to tie promos into controversial events. Take fashion guru Kenneth Cole for example. At the expense at those suffering in Syria, he made this self-promoting “joke” on his Twitter account:

Responses from Cole’s followers were almost unanimously negative. Twitter and its users definitely didn’t do JP Morgan Chase any favors when the bank’s social media team decided a Twitter Q&A session would be a fun way to engage with its customers.  They were totally unaware of how Twitter users would pounce on the chance to ask the bank’s vice chairman whatever they wanted.

Questions asked ranged from the angry: “When will you all go to jail?” to the ridiculous: “Does the sleaze wash off with a regular shower, or do you need to use something special like babies tears?” You can almost hear the JP Morgan’s social media team’s dreams crashing into the wall before they threw in the towel:

 2. The ‘How did you think this was a good idea?’ train wreck

 Sometimes marketing campaigns don’t so much go off the rails of good sense, but rather spontaneously explode with bad ideas. Those kinds of campaigns usually fill people with the urge to question how somebody, somewhere, thought this was a good plan.

 In 2013: Coca-Cola blind-sided itself.  Originally, the plan was to mix and mismatch English and French words on Vitaminwater bottle caps in a funny play off Canada’s bilingualism.

 However, customers began to realize that bilingual proofreading was apparently not in the plan. Sadly, Vitaminwater only realized the effects of this oversight after a cap reading “you retard” was found by a woman whose sister has cerebral palsy. What Coke really meant for the cap to translate to “you’re late,” but explaining this did little to calm down the girl’s family.

Hyundai also had a spectacularly bad ad idea blow up when it tried to market its new eco-friendly car. Somebody on the Hyundai team came up with the concept of showing off the value of the 100% water-emission model iX35 by associating it with suicide. The ad wastes no time in being bleak and depressing as most of it shows a man trying to pipe his exhaust into the car so he can kill himself. The “joke” twist, is that he can’t since the car’s water emissions are harmless.

Hyundai later apologized for the ad.

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