A Lesson in What Not to Do:
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.
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