Top Marketing Fails Ever

8 Oct 2021

Marketing isn’t just about thinking of an idea that sounds good. Good marketing needs to have a strategy behind it. In order for a marketing campaign to work, you need to carry out sufficient research, know your target audience, put a plan in place and set goals, give yourself enough time to achieve what you want to, and evaluate any changes.

Unfortunately, not all brands and businesses think about the bigger picture when it comes to marketing effectively, or sometimes they just get it wrong. Nevertheless, big mistakes cost big and can also really damage the reputation of your brand. 

Even some of the most well-known brands in the world make these mistakes. Let’s take a look at where they went wrong and why. 

‘New’ Coke

As the saying goes, “If something isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. In Coke’s case, they should have considered this before introducing a new formula of their world-famous fizzy drink in 1985, when people already loved the original Coke. 

By this point, Coke had found a comfortable place in American pop culture. People wanted to drink Coke that generations before had, not a new version of it. 

In actual fact, it was recorded that focus groups gave the taste of New Coke higher marks than the original, but the shift over to a new version of the product just didn’t sit well with the legions of original Coke fans. 

EA breaking the law with brass knuckles 

To market the release of the new Godfather II video game, EA was giving away brass knuckles alongside a copy of the game to media outlets to review. However, in many US States, brass knuckles are actually illegal.

In a panic, EA contacted journalists to ask them to send back the brass knuckles. Despite making a colossal error, EA still received a lot of buzz around the new game because of it. Retrospectively, this still helped it sell well, which was the initial intention. 

Adidas’ Boston Marathon email

To say you’ve ‘survived’ a HIIT class or 10-mile run might seem like a pretty normal thing to say when you’ve successfully completed it, right? In Adidas’ case, it wasn’t a great thing to say.

The runners of the Boston Marathon 2017 received an email with the ill-worded subject line, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”. However, unfortunately, because of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, when three people died, and 250 were injured, people understandably found this insensitive. 

Department of Education’s spelling mistakes

The lesson to learn on this one is to always edit your work and check for typing errors. 

To start with, the Department of Education misspelled the great W.E.B.’s Du Bois’ name in a quote they had put on Twitter. They were quickly called out on it and issued an apology. Although to add insult to injury, they then went on to misspell ‘apologies’ in the following tweet “Posted updated. Our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo.” 

Gap’s logo redesign

In 2010, the worldwide clothing and accessories retailer Gap decided to redesign its logo. Even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with the original logo and people were able to recognise the brand well, they did it anyway. 

Predictably, it was met with backlash straight away. Facebook blew up with an onslaught of comments criticising the new design, and the media wasn’t shying away from giving their thoughts on it either. 

Within a week, Gap reverted back to their original design, and that was that.


Last but not least, one of the funniest fopars in marketing history.  Back in 2012, singer Susan Boyle, released her new album. Pretty innocent? Well, the PR company handling SuBo’s album sent out tweets bearing the hashtag #susanalbumparty… we don’t want to spell it out for you, but you can read between the lines. Needless to say, the hashtag was quickly updated, but not before the damage and hilarity flooded the internet. 

If you need help building a strategy for your marketing campaigns, get in touch with the HushBots. We have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to raising brand awareness, getting good results, and making conversions. Get in touch with us.

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