Customer Experience News & Trends

6 worst marketing train wrecks of 2013

3. The ‘Disaster-bandwagon’ train wreck:

When disaster hits the nation, it isn’t uncommon for different companies to publicly offer their support or tribute. Unfortunately, it also isn’t uncommon to find companies jumping on the bandwagon to find ways to sneak some shameless self-promotion into their “tributes.”

ATT Photo


Example: The mobile mogul AT&T posted this groan-worthy picture to commemorate the Twin Towers Tribute in Light:

What was supposed to be a picture to honor the lives lost, instead it won AT&T huge amounts of negative feedback. The blow-back was so bad, not only was the picture taken down from the web within a few hours of its posting, but it also forced the company’s CEO to issue his own apology.

Advertising and mourning really don’t mix well either. Just look at the distasteful mistake of recipe website Epicurious for an example. The website thought it would be a clever advertising opportunity to offer links for breakfast suggestions along with their “heartfelt” tweets of support for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Here’s what Epicurious’ tweeted:

In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones. Boston, our hearts are with you. Here’s a bowl of breakfast energy we could all use to start the day.

Shortly after those tweets appeared, they too had to be pulled in favor of this:

 4. The ‘Taking yourself too seriously’ train wreck

Sometimes, the worst thing a brand can do is take itself too seriously by overreacting to a minor marketing conflict and make a spectacle of itself for everyone to see.

Unfortunately, nobody told this to Starbucks who recently got into a legal boxing match over its favorite coffee flavored frozen dessert, the Frappucino.

This past Christmas, Starbucks tried to hit a local Missouri Brewpub owner, Jeff Britton, with a cease and desist for serving three customers a beer called the “Frappicino.” Unfazed, Britton hit Starbucks  back with a snarky “apology,” along with a check for the profits made from selling the beer. The amount? Six bucks.

If Starbucks felt slighted before, they probably feel embarrassed now as Britton’s response continues to be shared around the internet, blowing up their petty grievance for everyone to enjoy. Was it worth it, Starbucks? 

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