10 Lessons on Marketing that Companies Learnt the Hard Way

10 Lessons on Marketing

Well, sometimes, an idea that seems so good to you and your team, might not be accepted in a good way or receive positive responses on being launched. After all, we’re humans- we all have unique perceptions, and we all make mistakes. However, when it comes to marketing for your brand, even the tiniest of mistakes may land you in an ocean of losses. Nobody can predict what the future holds for us. But what we can do is, prevent mistakes in the future by learning from the ones that happened in the past.

So, here’s a list of 10 lessons we learned from marketing mistakes done by top companies in the market:

10 Lessons on Marketing :

Lesson #1

  • NEVER try to blend political agendas into marketing strategies. The reason here is quite obvious, too- you never know when and how it will backfire, simply because the intention behind your campaign may be perceived totally wrong by the audience, you’re (or probably, you’re not) targeting.
  • During 2011’s Egyptian Revolution, in which more than 840 people were killed, Kenneth Cole tweeted, “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.” Such insensitivity is bound to raise an outrage over the internet!
  • Heineken’s light beer ad shows a shot of beer sliding across the table, passing a number of dark-skinned men, to finally land in the hands of a light-skinned woman. The tagline- sometimes lighter is better- further adds insult to injury by making the entire campaign point towards racism, to which Chance, The Rapper, took to Twitter to express the brand’s racist imagery.
  • Pepsi, which intended to spread “peace, unity and understanding” through its 2017 campaign that shows Kendall Jenner joining a street protest and diminishing tensions between the protesters and the police by simply offering a policeman a Pepsi. The entire thing was misinterpreted as an insensitive attempt to demolish important topics including racism, police violence, and Black Lives Matter.
  • In the 2006 ad campaign by Sony, in which the billboards were meant to depict dominance of the soon-to-launch white PSPs over the previous black version, racism again took over people’s minds, to which the brand responded insensitively with the ad’s “stunningly photographed imagery”.

Lesson #2

NEVER try to make the product that made you stand in the market your own competitor. Simply because that’s what your customers started accepting and loving your brand for.

  • When Colgate tried their hands at tasty frozen dinners, their customers simply couldn’t connect with it because of the toothpaste that they’re used to.
  • Similarly, when Coca-Cola introduced a new and sweeter version of Coke in the market, it all went in vain even though it tasted better.

Lesson #3

NEVER try to experiment with your brand’s first impression. It could be your logo, a form of graphics, the face of your brand, or absolutely anything that first comes to a person’s mind when your brand name is taken.

  • The elongated Serif letters in the GAP apparel brand’s logo seemed so iconic, sophisticated, and timeless- was there a need to redefine it at all? They could’ve done nothing as there was no need to, instead of switching over to a new logo in 2016, that seemed more like a technological theme.
  • Well, Burger King’s weird marketing strategies didn’t do it any good, either, over the last 10 years or so. Among the most infamous being the animated King, which was a mascot it had abandoned earlier in the 80s.

Lesson #4

ALWAYS analyze the theme and timing of your campaign launch, especially if you don’t want your intentions to backfire unintentionally! Remember to pay attention to current events. Facebook, Airbnb

  • When Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and Head of Social Virtual Reality, Rachel Franklin, launched their grinning avatars walking across the storm-struck and recovering land of Puerto Rico, Zuckerberg’s excitement over the VR technology somehow took over the empathy that was supposed to be depicted through the campaign.
  • Airbnb’s “floating world” campaign, which depicts the image of a water-themed house floating on the surface of the water, launched in 2017, during the time when Hurricane Harvey was engulfing Houston. This, again, was perceived to be an insensitive campaign among many.

Lesson #5

Packaging should neither be neglected nor primarily focused on. But, when choosing the package to market your brand’s vision, be careful about the ideologies you convey.

  • Dove’s “real beauty” campaign has been a big hit over years. That was until they released the limited-edition packaging in England that depicted the diverse female body shapes. The campaign, however, made women more conscious of their body shapes while buying Dove soaps publicly.

Lesson #6

Sometimes, unfortunate things happen. Future can’t be predicted, but risks can be avoided. So, when going for influencer marketing, choose someone reliable and trustworthy. And, when announcing public engagement stunts e.g., competitions, lotteries, etc., don’t forget to create a future analysis of how things may turn out later on.

  • Nike’s ad featuring Olympian Oscar Pistorius, with the tagline, “I am the bullet in the chamber”, unfortunately, backfired when he was later charged with murder using a firearm. Well, Nike could have hardly done anything in this regard- except that they could have gone for someone on whom they might be able to rely for keeping up with their brand image.
  • In 2007, a California- based radio station launched a contest called “hold your wee for a Wii”, in which the contestant who could drink maximum water without hitting the washroom would be awarded a Nintendo Wii console. Turned out that a 28-year old contestant died from water intoxication! Is a marketing stunt worth someone’s life?

Lesson #7

While adding some fun and comedy mostly adds a plus point, remember to draw the line between humor and offense.

  • Audi’s commercial, in which the groom’s mother walks up the altar to check the bride carefully by pinching her lips, pulling her ears, and looking at her teeth and tongue, was meant to indicate how important it is to check anything carefully before buying. However, it turned out to be more offensive than humorous, because it objectifies women and brings down their value to that of a vehicle.
  • In 2017, the participants of the Boston marathon received an email from Adidas, in which the subject line read, “Congrats, you survived the Boston marathon!” Although it was meant to be harmless and friendly, some were offended because it was relatable to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, in which 3 were killed and more than 250 were injured.

Lesson #8

ALWAYS plan strategically ahead of time for the long run before launching a campaign, even if you’re running on losses currently.

  • In 1989, American Airlines introduced an AAirpass, which offered unlimited first-class flights at a flat rate of $250,000. At the time, they were able to make up for their losses with this strategy. But, by 2007, these AAirpass holders turned out to be taking more than 1,000 flights every year, resulting in a number of lawsuits and challenges.
  • Walkers, a UK-based snack company, implemented a social media campaign, in which participants were supposed to submit selfies to get an opportunity to win free tickets for a major sporting event. They, however, received a number of pictures of dictators, serial killers, and criminals- and, the entire campaign ended up being a nightmare for them.

Lesson #9

Do not prioritize creativity over grief.

  • In Mc Donald’s marketing campaign, a young boy was talking to his mother about his dead father. Turns out that one thing they both shared in common was love for Mc D’s filet-o-fish sandwiches. They were even accused on social media of “exploiting grief to sell sandwiches”.

Lesson #10

Snap out of personal matters. Especially when it comes to celebs, try not to interfere in their private lives and make everything public. Snapchat

  • Snapchat launched an ad for a game- “Would you rather?” The full version is, “Would you rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown?” The game turned out to highlight more on these celebs’ domestic violence cases, and further let down on domestic violence victims, as well.

Are you worried about hitting the right target by depicting the right marketing strategy, too? Not to worry, because you, too, can grab the opportunity to stand out in the global market by shaking hands with us- we’ll expand your business across borders with our world-class digital marketing services using the internet and e-commerce. Discover your true potential by reaching a maximum audience with us. Reach out to us for a detailed discussion, now!


Digital Piloto, May 22, 2021

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