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10 of the Worst Marketing Fails That You Should Avoid at All Costs

Have you ever seen an ad that made you vow off the product or service forever? If so, then you’re not alone.

What makes a marketing campaign go viral, and what makes them flop?

Keep reading to learn about the top ten worst marketing fails that you never want to replicate.

1. Making Insensitive Products or Statements

One of the worst marketing failures is making a tone-deaf comment or product that can’t be unsaid or unseen. If you think a product or statement could be offensive, then it’s better not to make it or say it.

The recent fallout after Gucci made a controversial sweater resembling blackface proves this. Gucci admitted they didn’t understand the sensitivities of the black community.

Now, they’ll have to pour hundreds of dollars into sensitivity training. They’ve also outraged countless individuals.

2. Tossing Support at a Popular Cause

Bad marketing doesn’t have to be insensitive. It can happen by misreading a popular cause or social movement.

No one knows this better than Pepsi who failed at this in 2017. In their ad, Kendall Jenner joins a protest before giving Pepsi to a policeman.

This all happened during the height of Black Lives Matter protests, so it didn’t go over too well. After overwhelming criticism, Pepsi pulled the ad and apologized.

3. The Art of Online Trolling

Traditional marketing has taken a backseat to the newest method: troll marketing.

What is it?

It’s when a business imitates an online troll to deliver hilarious tweets or posts. Why? Posts that are controversial and strike up conflict get more attention.

If you haven’t heard about Wendy’s Twitter account, then you’re missing out.

Online trolling is an art, and it’s a thin line to walk on. IHOP learned that the hard way when they suffered a terrible marketing fail last year.

They tried to troll everyone by pretending to change their name to IHOB. They thought the prank would draw attention, but it ended up flopping hard.

Be careful with the latest trend of troll marketing. You don’t want to become another example among bad marketing campaigns.

4. Failing to Handle Customer’s Reviews

When looking for products or services online, reviews make a major impact. The worst thing a company can do is fail to handle these reviews in a proper way.

Companies with bad marketing don’t realize the power of testimonials and polls. You need to find ways to highlight and promote positive reviews.

At the same time, you’ll need to manage the negative reviews. A bad review, even when fabricated, can have serious repercussions.

5. Spray and Pray Marketing Fails

The spray and pray method means throwing everything at your target and hoping for the best. In the past, businesses used cold calling and mailers.

Today, these methods are ineffective. Millennials are 44% more likely to disengage with companies that use these tactics.

Instead, you should direct your marketing efforts towards a specific target of customers.

If you want to learn more about the disadvantages of the spray and pray approach, then read more here.

6. Relying on Social Media Ads

Using social media for marketing purposes is very effective. Companies with bad marketing strategies think that means relying on ads.

Don’t make this mistake. Your social media strategy needs to be much bigger than that. An effective social media ad must be:

  • Creative
  • Targeted towards the right audience
  • Powerful enough to move your customer to action

Don’t think you can make an ad, publish it, and get massive results. Social media marketing takes a lot of work.

You’ll also need to have a relevant profile that links to any advertisement. That builds trust between you and your customers.

7. Don’t Break the Law

It kind of goes without saying, but never break the law with your marketing tactics. Guerilla marketing is a new method that involves walking that thin line.

Understand that getting involved in such antics could result in jail time or fines.

During the 2004 Olympics, one man used these guerilla marketing techniques. He adorned a purple tutu and wrote “GoldenPalace.com” on his stomach.

He jumped into the Olympic pool and caused such a stir that he got arrested.

8. Watch out for Deceptive Advertising

You have to be careful when advertising your product or service. You never want your marketing campaigns to be misleading or construed as deceptive.

Todd Davis became infamous during the Lifelock disaster. He had an idea to publish his own social security number to promote his security services.

In the end, Davis became the victim of identity theft and he faced several lawsuits.

9. Never Exploit a Tragedy

Associating your product or brand with a tragedy is never a good idea.

Mark Zuckerberg found that out during a live broadcast. He was showing the power of the Oculus Rift technology by “visiting” Puerto Rico.

The problem was that he did this right after the Hurricane Maria disaster. Seeing Zuck’s avatar floating around the ravished areas wasn’t a good image.

10. Giant or Unrealistic Promotions

Giving away free stuff always boosts sales. Do not make the mistake of underestimating the power of free things.

The promise of free things unfulfilled can lead to riots, deaths, and an all-out war against your brand.  Don’t believe me? Ask Pepsi about their Philippines “Number Fever” promotion.

Each can of soda had a unique code printed on it. A random draw would determine the winning number and who would receive one million pesos.

The problem? There were over 480,116 people who had the winning number in the end. To put it in simple terms, Pepsi is not welcome in the Philippines anymore.

Avoiding Marketing Pitfalls

Marketing in the modern-day era is no easy task. You’ll have to avoid these ten marketing fails and more to be successful. 

Don’t get discouraged if you do make a marketing blunder. Many successful brands have made a comeback after such missteps.

Are you interested in learning more valuable marketing tips? Head over to our digital marketing blog now to access dozens of articles for free.

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