Every business owner likes to believe that their ideas are the best ones, which will generate the company additional revenue from a new marketing campaign and replace the one that is actually working and does not need fixing.
However, when an idea is already working and netting the company a ROI, it’s better to leave it alone than to change something that isn’t broken. Unless your Los Angeles socialite Kim Kardashian, then any changes whether they are good or bad, will always net you publicity and income.
As the year finally comes to an end, let’s look back and reflect on the Worst Marketing Campaigns for 2012 and understand what lessons we can learn from the following business decisions.
Worst Marketing Campaigns 2012:
SONIC puts college logo on hamburger bun to support school
To show their support for the Ragin’ Cajuns down in Lafayette, Louisana, SONIC Drive–Ins has decided to create a new one–of–a–kind hamburger and put the University of Louisiana’s school logo on hamburger buns for a unique sponsorship. The logo or any logo has never been put on a bun before and is edible causing mostly negative responsives from fans that said, “we’ll probably learn in 5 years they cause cancer too” while others believe "advertising is simply out of control".
Lesson Learned: Although it’s important to continue branding your company’s identity on all your marketing materials, it’s generally not a great idea to put your logo on an edible food product unless you’re a milk chocolate Hershey bar.
General Motors reconsiders paid advertising on Facebook again
Earlier this year, Fortune 500 company General Motors complained that the social media website Facebook had little effect on consumers and decided to pull the plug from paid advertising on the growing website with over 900 million users. Even though GM had success with consumers on their Chevrolet Camaro muscle car’s fan page with over 2.8 million Facebook followers, it still wasn’t good enough of a reason to keep the company from continuing to pay for advertising on the site. After a ton of backlash and negative press, the motor company did an about face and sat down with Facebook executives to hash out a new plan to reconsider paid advertising on the largest social media website.
Lesson Learned: Never turn your back on a company that has over 900 million loyal fans and users just because you can’t figure out how to plan and execute your marketing campaign successfully.
Disney is accused of discrimination against fat kids with new exhibit
Disney has learned the hard way about not thinking clearly regarding marketing when it received serious criticism for their new Epcot exhibit targeting childhood obesity because it discriminated against fat kids. The interactive Habit Heroes attraction at Epcot has been closed indefinitely until the exhibit has undergone the necessary changes before reopening to the general public. The Habit Heroes website has also been conveniently down for maintenance. By creating a partnership with insurance giants Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the three companies tried to help attract visitors to the park’s new exhibit in order to understand how to fight bad habits against too much television and junk food. The campaign completely missed the mark when the images released featured villain characters with an over–exaggerated body type that immediately associated them with being bad and stereotyping them with scenes filled with cake, potato chips, candy and cookies. Basically, Disney’s images were telling parents and children that a fat person is bad and not clean. Disney has no plans to open the exhibit until appropriate changes have been made.
Lesson Learned: Know your target audience and be sure to create a positive marketing campaign when you’re trying to lure them to your business and spend lots of money.
Facebook advertising doesn’t pay off for businesses
Facebook announced earlier this year that it would a publicly traded company on the stock exchange and when the news broke, the decision backfired giving them a reputation like L.A. socialite Kim Kardashian with a domino of bad luck. Many large brands, including General Motors, have taken a step back from spending their advertising dollars on the social networking website because the technology has been too complicated because paid advertising doesn’t work the same way as the old school traditional method. The main problem with paid advertising on Facebook is that there are too many target audiences for companies to market their product or service prompting many to have up to 30 different kinds of ads geared towards each specific target audience. While the idea is great, it does have a series impact on many businesses that can’t keep up the tremendous workload or afford to hire more employees because Facebook campaigns are expensive.
Lesson Learned: Know your target audience and create a way for them to continue doing business with you instead of ending valuable relationships.
POM Wonderful guilty of deceptive ads by FTC
Beverly Hills billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick own 18,000 acres of pomegranate orchards and believe their fruit turned into juice can treat or prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. However, the FTC has said that the Resnicks’ health claims advertised about their products were deceptive. To prove their claims, the spent $35 million on 100 studies that could not prove with sufficient evidence that their pomegranate juice and pills does anything special like prevent heart disease. The judge in the case ruled against the Resnicks ordering them to discontinue making “any representation” that a product “is effective in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease” and may face a fine of $16,000 per incident if any violations occur against the judge’s ruling.
Lesson Learned: Being rich and putting out false claims without sufficient proof and evidence that is FTC approved will automatically guarantee you lose in a court of law with the possibility of payments if you violate the law.
Facebook loses General Motors paid advertising
Facebook can’t seem to win with General Motors when the nation’s largest automaker decided to pull its paid advertising from the social network because it had little effect on consumers. News of Facebook’s IPO going public didn’t help either because investors had been putting pressing on the company to go public in hopes to generate a larger profit. Claiming they had not seen the success they wanted with Facebook because people don’t want to pay attention to advertisements, GM pulled the plug because of the limits of what they can do on Facebook for free.
Lesson Learned: Research, research, research before you decide whether to proceed with any advertising whether it’s on Facebook or somewhere else.
Skechers to pay $40M for deceptive shoe ads featuring Kim Kardashian
Being associated with Kim Kardashian in marketing any product is never a good business decision even though the Kardashian name will bring plenty of press, which isn’t always on a positive note, as it was recently announced she is now pregnant with Kayne West’s child while still legally married to Kris Humphries. Skechers USA Inc., located in Manhattan Beach, CA has been marketing their Shape–ups shoes as a fitness tool designed to promote weight loss and tone muscles along with featuring the L.A. socialite Kim Kardashian and her momager Kris Jenner in shoe ads. Promoting false claims, the FTC has order the company to pay consumers $40 million for its false claims that the Shape–ups shoes would help people lose weight and strengthen their butt, leg and stomach muscles. On top of their false claims, the shoe company had fired Kardashian from their ads in January replacing her with a bulldog for their Super Bowl commercials.
Lesson Learned: Making false claims about a product will always put you in hot water with the FTC and using a Kardashian in your advertising campaign, no matter how many page views the name brings, never brings in good press or a positive image for your company.
Hip–Hop legend Jay–Z designs logo for Brooklyn Nets’
The Brooklyn Nets’ unveiled their logo identity designed by part–owner and hip–hop legend Jay–Z, one of the most famous and successful musicians ever to come out of Brooklyn and married to signer and super star, Beyoncé, People’s Magazine 2012 World’s Most Beautiful Woman. With zero experience in graphic design and any knowledge about the industry, the hip–hop artist got the chance to design the logo identity because he is part owner of the Nets’ – a stupid reason for someone to create a brand identity. While CEO Bret Yormark is optimistic about Jay–Z’s designing skills, many fans responded back with unpleasant comments such as, “Wow he put a B on a basketball on the current logo. Are we supposed to be in awe of this amazing feat of creativity?” and “You’d think Jay–Z could afford to get a graphic designer.”
Lesson Learned: Graphic design takes natural talent, creativity, skill, education and experience in order to create a successful logo identity, and there are plenty of talented design studios and ad agencies throughout Los Angeles and New York that would have created a much better identity than what Jay–Z created.
Levi’s ad for curvy women’s jeans features skinny models
American classic jeans company Levi’s created a marketing campaign to sell their Levi’s Curve ID Jeans to women, but failed to recognize that the models featured in the ad had identical body types prompting many to wonder if the company even knows there is a difference between women and their body types. The ad labeled, “Hotness Comes in all Shapes and Sizes” offended many women who expressed their displeasure “To me it looks like all three are wearing the same size! Curves are a good thing, and they don’t mean you’re fat. Obviously Levi’s advertising department is run by idiots.” To make up for the comments toward the ad, a company spokesperson put out a statement explaining the ad and closing with “we certainly value all feedback.”
Lesson Learned: If you put out an ad that offends people on a large scale, the best way to correct the situation from getting worse and maintaining a good public image is to simply say, “We are sorry to have offended anyone”. A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way and make a big difference in preserving customer relationships which are vital to a company’s growth and success.
Billboard covered in breasts is yanked and replaced with bikini clad woman
Plastic Surgery Associates of Montgomery, AL put up a billboard covered in breasts which turn a lot of heads, but gained a ton of criticism mostly from Auburn fans because they believed the billboard was aimed at them. After enough shouts from Auburn fans, the billboard was removed and then replaced with one cover of a scantly clad woman wearing a white bikini with the company’s name and phone number.
Lesson Learned: While there is nothing wrong with advertising your business and using a specific tactic to get consumer’s attention, you want to consider who your target audience is and what exactly will work to get their attention – not drive them away.
California homeowners turn house into a billboard and get paid for it
Desperate to get out of debt due the housing crisis in California, one homeowner in Los Angeles agreed to have their house painted bright orange and green and allowed giant billboards to be hung on the outside. The couple received nearly $2,000 a month for payment towards their mortgage by the marketing company. Neighbors complained, passerby’s were confused, and the police received a number of angry calls about the couple’s house. On top of neighbors not wanting to look at an orange and green house covered in social media billboards for more than a month, the advertiser who cooked up the idea, Romeo Mendoza, may have incurred a fine by Buena Park city council as adding billboards and social media logos on a front residence violates city codes. However, experts in the housing industry don’t think that the marketing program will be a success anyways.
Lesson Learned: Although it’s a great idea to help struggling home owners pay for their mortgage, especially with many people still unemployed, the idea of using a personal property to advertise a business in a residential neighbor doesn’t make sense and may also violate city codes and bring on graffiti art.
America’s favorite store jcpenney receives brand do–over
Under control by former Apple executive Ron Johnston, who took the reins as CEO for jcpenney, made a move to push the retailer in a different direction similar to Walmart’s every day low pricing and Target’s clean modern image. The outdated retailer received the biggest image overhaul by any company with a shortned name, new logo, new advertising, new spokesperson (talk show host Ellen DeGeneres), new pricing strategy, an investment with Martha Stewart and another design partnership with Nanette Lepore. The company also slashed prices by 40 percent, cut coupons and changed sales marketing tactics prompting outraged from consumers and it showed as sales over the past year have been declining.
Lesson Learned: While it’s a great idea to review your current branding identity and marketing plan in order to determine how to take your company’s image to the next level, it’s a smart business decision to spend a thorough amount of time doing your research in your target audience.
Racy Ad Yanked After Complaints and Comments
An ad that was deemed too racy showing three women and two men flirting through a window in a downtown Fargo bar with the text reading, “Dinner, drinks, decisions. Arrive as a guest, leave as a legend,” was yanked from the North Dakota advertising campaign promoting the state’s tourism. The ad received a dozen complaints and comments on the state’s tourism Facebook page and prompted the removal of it. The ad contained nothing indecent, sleazy or provocative, unless you think seeing a woman’s knees exposed is immodest. Interesting note, the people photographed for the ad were locals to the Fargo area and a woman and man in the ad are dating in real life.
Lesson Learned: If you’re going to use the ad copy “live as a legend” then it would be suited for an advertising a weekend in Las Vegas. The advertising and copy must written in a way that will sell the image, and the copy and photo must also compliment each other. Besides, you only get one chance to make a great first impression.