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  • Writer's pictureMadison Richey

Top Marketing Fails & What We Can Learn From Them

Remember when you were young and your parents or guardians set house rules. Some of those rules were spoken, but others were unspoken. They simply didn’t need to be said, right? 

Now, as marketers, we are well aware that marketing can be a series of trials and errors before finding the campaign that “clicks”. We know the rules of the game during our brainstorming sessions; what we can’t (or shouldn’t) do, and what we can do. However, sometimes we have to learn from other’s mistakes to set those rules or guidelines. Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic marketing fails that left us scratching our heads and wondering, “What were they thinking?”

Pepsi's Protest Misfire:

  • Remember when Pepsi thought handing a can of soda to a police officer during a protest would solve all the world's problems? Yeah, me neither. Lesson one: authenticity matters. Trying to turn serious issues into a bubbly marketing stunt is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn't work.

The Great Fyre Festival Flameout:

  • Ah, the Fyre Festival – where influencers frolicked on sandy beaches that turned out to be more like a scene from a horror movie. Lesson two: don't promise paradise if you can't deliver. It's a simple concept, yet some folks missed the memo. Be transparent, and remember, the truth always finds its way to the surface, much like those FEMA tents on Exuma.

McDonald's McFail with Arch Deluxe:

  • McDonald's once thought slapping a "sophisticated" price tag on a burger called Arch Deluxe would make it a gourmet success. Spoiler alert: it didn't. Lesson three: know your audience. If your customers are looking for a high-end dining experience, they probably won't be pulling through the drive-thru for a fast-food filet-o-flop.

New Coke Catastrophe:

  • Coca-Cola, in a moment of madness, decided to replace its beloved classic with New Coke. Needless to say, people weren't having it. Lesson four: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Your loyal customers are your bread and butter – or in this case, your cola and fizz. Don't mess with a good thing.

So, what's the takeaway? Learn from these ultimate face-plants. Authenticity, transparency, understanding your audience, and for the love of marketing gods, don't mess with a classic. 

Happy Marketing!

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