MARKETING HORROR STORIES
Every marketing professional wants their campaign to be memorable. They want consumers to take notice — or take the bait — and make their company a big profit. But sometimes, things don’t go exactly as planned. The campaigns below certainly won the attention of consumers, but in each case, what started out as a marketing dream quickly turned into a nightmare. Fiat’s Direct Mail Disaster In 1992, women across Spain received anonymous letters inviting them to go on a “little adventure.” The letters stated, “We met again on the street yesterday, and I noticed how you glanced interestedly in my direction.” Fearing a stalker, many women locked themselves in their homes. A few days later, another letter arrived, revealing the identity of the “secret admirer” as the new Fiat Cinquecento. Yes, the creepy letters were part of a marketing campaign by the Italian car company. Fiat apologized and ended the campaign after criticism from consumer protection groups, Social Minister Cristina Alberdi, and the 50,000 women who received the letters. KFC and Hoover Can’t Do Math A shocking number of companies hold giveaway promotions without calculating exactly how much they will cost. Here are a few examples.
• Back when “Oprah” was the biggest show on television, KFC ran an ad offering a free two-piece chicken meal with two sides and a biscuit for anyone who went to their website and downloaded a coupon. Over 10.5 million coupons were downloaded, and KFC had to give away $42 million in free food. • In the 1990s, Hoover Company in the United Kingdom offered two round- trip plane tickets with the purchase of a vacuum. Unfortunately, even in the ‘90s, most vacuums were still cheaper than plane tickets, and Hoover lost 50 million pounds in what remains the biggest promotional disaster ever. Cartoon Network Causes a Bomb Scare Guerrilla marketing can create valuable word of mouth — think about the success of the movie “It” last year. The marketing for the film included simple red balloons tied to storm drains. But Cartoon Network didn’t have quite the same luck in 2007 when they tried to promote their show “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” When the network put electronic devices featuring a character from the show all over Boston, city residents thought the strange contraptions looked like bombs and called the police. This triggered a terrorist scare that ultimately cost the general manager of Cartoon Network his job. AVOID NIGHTMARE TRIPS For someone who is mobility-challenged, a simple outing to a museum, park, theater, restaurant, or playground can be challenging. Fortunately, Destination: Accessible exists to help! Destination: Accessible (DestinationAccessible.com) is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides information about the accessibility of various leisure locations for people with mobility challenges (e.g., wheelchairs, walkers, canes, slow walkers, etc.) based on personal visits to the sites. It allows people to “know before you go” to make the best decisions for the best experience possible. The organization makes personal visits to each site and provides detailed descriptions of parking, entrances/exits, bathrooms, navigation, and more.
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or handle tough situations. Is it possible for you to capture the spark that made their business succeed and emulate it in your own business? When you get down to it, nothing predicts success like success. For myself, I attribute a lot of my law firm’s success to Ben Glass, a fellow attorney with a thriving practice in Virginia. I looked at how he runs his practice and how he has made it different. In studying Ben Glass and others, I have found inspiration. I’ve been able to learn to control my own fear, and to focus on building the best legal practice I know how. And because of that, I can get back to celebrating
Destination: Accessible has good coverage of Long Island locations as well as entries for NYC and popular tourist destinations around the country. This is a great
Halloween, go out trick-or-treating with my kids, and wake up on November 1, knowing that everything is going to be just fine. While my family is going as a herd of dinosaurs this year, I am not worried about my business’s extinction.
reference tool for anyone who loves someone who might need special consideration. Roberta Rosenberg started the service when she experienced her own temporary mobility issues and discovered a lack of resources. Since then, the site has grown to become a terrific aid to so many who need it.
To learn more, visit DestinationAccessible.com . You can search places already visited, and you can suggest places for review as well.
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