While everyone hopes that their online marketing schemes go viral, it does not always happen quite as planned. A few examples of failed marketing schemes that went viral may make you think twice when you sit down in your office to concoct your next marketing campaign.
Don’t just sit in the office making seemingly foolproof plans – get out there & take notes from companies who have learned the hard way.
Entering a foreign market can be exciting, but care needs to be taken when translating company slogans and the like. Some big corporations have learned this the hard way.
- “Finger Lickin’ Good” – translated into Chinese turned out as “eat your fingers off.”
- “Pepsi Brings you Back to Life” – entered the Chinese market as “Pepsi brings your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”
- Chevy Nova – didn’t go over well in South America, where it was discovered that nova means “won’t go.” Who wants a car that won’t go anywhere?
Lesson learned? Make sure to have native language speakers check out your marketing campaigns before they go live.
Personal or Corporate?
Hopefully no one with access to your company social media accounts would actually want to harm your company image, whether through company sites or personal, but sometimes account slip-ups can cause some embarrassing episodes for the company. Such was the case with a Red Cross staffer’s account goof up. Tweeted on the official American Red Cross Twitter account was the following message: “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…. When we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” The tweet was taken down pretty quickly and the Red Cross staffer made a light-hearted apology, but not before it was retweeted enough times to get the attention of beer lover’s around the world who in turn made donations to the Red Cross.
The bottom line? Double check accounts before you tweet, post, or like something. But if you do make a mistake… handle it well and hope it turns out for the best!
When Epic Failure is Colossal Success
What appeared to be an epic failure on Shell’s part to connect with consumers on the web was actually a supremely successful parody campaign run by Greenpeace. The site in question, articready.com, looks and feels like an official Shell site. The site ran an ad creation contest, allegedly seeking user-generated content for their next ad campaign. The entries appeared to have backfired on Shell, with a host of very negative images created by Shell haters, rather than lovers, being entered in the contest. A related Twitter account seemed to add to this massive public relations failure, as incompetent “Shell employees” and temps tried to convince users to post positive content.
The punch line? Neither the Arctic Ready site nor the Twitter account were actually owned or operated by Shell. Instead, both were operated by their arch-enemy, Greenpeace, in a very successful effort to raise public awareness about their ideas on Shell’s arctic activity.
No one is going to hit 100% with every marketing strategy. There will be some mistakes along the way. And while consumers may think they are funny, sometimes your bottom line takes a hit. The best way to make sure your mistake is not the next laughing stock of social media? Have an effective damage control plan. Know how you will deal with gaffes. Deal with them quickly, in good humor, and monitor what others are saying about your company.
David Ching is a marketing strategist for EQA Office Furniture, an office furniture retailer in California. EQA offers workstation, cubicles, receptionist desks, office chairs, conference tables and more on their website, where you can also find 3D virtual walkthroughs.