12 Disastrous Marketing and Communication Blunders
Email Blunder
In July 2001, the pharmaceutical corporation, Eli Lilly sent a mass email toall the users of its anti-depressant Prozac. Unfortunately the writer of themail didn’t use the ‘bcc’ function on email to hide the addressees fromeach other. In seconds Lilly had published its entire mailing list of Prozacusers.
The Lesson: Avoid a depressing mistake. Your customer's privacy is king.
Communications Blunder
When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same
packaging as in the US, with the beautiful baby on the label. Later they
learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label to
describe the contents inside, since most people can't read English.
The Lesson: When exporting products, research the language and culture
of those you are marketing to, and adjust your message accordingly.
Direct Mail Blunder
Lawyers are by nature cautious, so what was business litigation firm QuinnEmanuel thinking when it allowed a "Business is war" technology-targetedmarketing campaign, which sent fake hand grenade paperweights throughthe mail? "Our marketing consultant told us this is Silicon Valley, they'reyouthful, kind of aggressive, edgy, this is an effective promotion to do," asenior partner said. When the bomb squad was called in at two locations itturned out to be a dud of an idea.
The Lesson: Gimmicks more often blow up in your face, than succeed.
Slogan Blunders
As the SARS super-pneumonia swept Hong Kong, the local tourist boardcontinued to use the slogan, "Hong Kong will take your breath away." Afew years ago there was a mini-epidemic in Virginia in which 7 or 8 peoplecaught typhus from seafood prepared at a fast-food restaurant. Even aweek later, the chain's billboards still said "Catch Our Shrimp Salad." The Lesson: Stay on top of news and issues in your market area. They
could affect your public relations efforts, either negatively or positively.
Branding Blunder
Two days before Valentine’s Day, Mattel announced that its iconic Barbiedoll was breaking up with Ken, her beau of 43 years. That, coupled withMattel’s decision to make teen performer Hillary Duff—whose box officeproved less than mighty--the brand’s spokesperson, contributed to a 13%decline in third-quarter Barbie sales.
The Lesson: If your branding and market position isn’t broken, don't fix it.
Public Relations Blunder
Salvation Army bell ringers with collection kettles outside departmentstores have been around for a century. So, when US-based Targetannounced it would ban Salvation Army collectors at all its stores to reducesolicitation requests, outraged consumers called for a national boycott. “The bell ringers remind you of the meaning of Christmas, that it's aboutlove, caring, and giving," said shopper Phyllis McElaney. In response, retailrival Wal-Mart offered to match its customer donations to the red kettles atall the retailer's locations.
The Lesson: If handled carefully, your competition’s public relations
blunders can be used to your advantage.
Media Blunder
Saying the wrong things to the press offers can dramatically affectmarketing campaigns. Take the comments of Peter Main, Nintendo’smarketing exec when he spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle: “No onewill deny that Sony is a world-class hardware company, and no one willdeny that Microsoft is a world-class software company. Nintendo aspires tobe neither one of those things.” The Lesson: Think before you speak – especially to the media.
Promotion Blunder
IUMA.com, an alternative-music portal, took branding a step too far bybribing parents to name their newborn children "Iuma." While admittedly IUMA is not a bad name at all $5,000 cash is not nearly enough toovercome the stigma of having one's identity raffled off in infancy.
The Lesson: Guerrilla marketing tactics can offend. Ensure you look at the
potential negative publicity when embarking on these kinds of campaigns.
Product Name Blunder
Is Touareg a bad name for Volkswagen's new sport-utility? VW probablybelieved the Touareg name would conjure up visions of a harsh breed ofpeople with the ability to survive in an inhospitable environment. Theperfect image for a rough and tumble off-road vehicle. But in fact, Touaregimplies "political rebellion by a stateless, Kurd-like tribe whose nameliterally means 'abandoned by God,' " says your Dictionary.com.
The Lesson: When it comes to product names, do your research.
Customer Relations Blunder
When Bridgestone Corp. ordered a voluntary recall of 6.5 million potentiallydefective tires on August 9, the Japanese-owned company's CEO did notmake public appearances to apologize. Instead, the company tried todeflect blame to drivers for their driving habits and to its customer, Ford,for its under-inflation tire maintenance recommendations. The tire defectspurportedly caused well over 100 deaths and resulted in at least 200personal injury lawsuits. Bridgestone, Firestone's parent company publiclydenied product problems and customer complaints while trying quietly tosolve the trouble.
The Lesson: Mistakes happen, but it’s how you deal with the bad publicity
aftermath that really counts.
Trademark Blunder
New Zealand's farmers remember the mistake they made the first timethey brought the country's unique kiwifruit plants to the United States.
American, Chilean, and Italian farmers snapped them up started growingkiwis themselves, under priced New Zealand's fruit, and stole the NorthAmerican market, now worth $90 million. Adding insult to injury, thegrowers also kept the name, which New Zealand growers had failed totrademark even though it is the nickname for New Zealanders themselves(after their hairy, flightless national bird). Says Arama Kukutai, the regional director for the country's trade ministry; "It's quite possibly the worstbranding disaster in New Zealand's history." The Lesson: If you have developed a great product, protect it in every way
you can.
Writing Blunders:
"Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficientbeating." "Dinner Special -- Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.00" The Lesson: It pays to hire a professional copywriter!

Source: http://www.womensenterprise.ca/enews/articles/marketingblunders.pdf


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