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Scary Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

9 Oct, 2015 McKell Naegle

Scary Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

 Someone from marketing forgot to sign out of the corporate twitter account and is now launching a full blown profanity laced rant about the traffic, what to you do?  Unfortunately, you won’t be the first company to suffer such an embarrassing blow. Many companies have suffered embarrassing and down right damaging marketing mistakes.  They come in the form of failed product launces, embarrassing posts on social media, spokesmen or celebrity representatives drawing bad press, and many many other ways as well! When this happens there is only two things to do: Laugh and Learn.  First lets focus on the laughing part.


Colgate Launches Food Products

colgate marketing mistake

Laugh: Back in 1982, Colgate had the not-so-brilliant idea to launch a frozen entrée product line.  The market was already saturated with similar products, and people had a hard time accepting that food made by Colgate would taste like anything other than toothpaste.  The products were quickly discontinued.

Learn:  Do your customer research before launching a marketing campaign or product. Whatever your thinking may sound like a good idea in your head, and might even sound like a good idea when you pitch it to the company; but they are not your customers. Ask what the people want, and then give it to them.

Gap’s Logo Redesign

gap logo mistake


Laugh: In October of 2010, Gap spent millions of dollars on a rebranding campaign.  The idea was to revamp the blue square logo with a more modern look. The new logo scared off loyal customers who feared Gap was not the same company anymore. After just two days of being released the logo was removed and replaced with the old one.

Learn: If its not broken, don’t fix it. Gap assumed it was falling behind the times and wanted to connect with its younger customers. It underestimated the value of its classic logo and went chasing after a crowd it could never please.

American Apparel’s twitter fail

twitter marketing mistake

Laugh:  American Apparel tweeted the above picture on the 4th of July in 2014, claiming it to be an “artistic” firework, tagged with #smoke and #clouds.  In reality it was a picture of the Challenger space shuttle exploding.  Not so artsy.

Learn:  Pay attention in History class.  Research images and hashtags before you post them.  Make sure you know what in the world you are posting. 

 Nesquik National Bunny Ears Day

nesquik marketing mistake

Laugh: Do you remember national bunny ears day?  Neither does anyone else.  Nesquik made up a holiday, national bunny ears day.  The marketing campaign encouraged people to download a photo app that added a pair of big bunny ears to pictures taken. It wasn’t a bad idea, and was supported by famous chef’s Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis.  The problem was that they were about the only two people who participated. Nobody else cared for the idea.

Learn: This idea may have worked if Nesquik had lined up the timing of the campaign with Easter or maybe even Halloween, but they chose not to.  They picked a random day of the year to run the campaign.  The lesson here is to think through every aspect of your campaign before launch!


We can learn a lot from the mistakes of others.  Being able to place our selves in other people’s shoes is a good start when creating a marketing campaign, but its even better to ask people for their opinion’s instead of assuming what they might think or feel.  If there is one thing we can learn from these mistakes is that it never hurts to get to know your audience a little bit better, and make sure you provide them with what they want.

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