Market madness

Thirty years ago, Coca-Cola redefined marketing failure by tinkering with the taste of its trademark drink. New Coke prompted a consumer firestorm. Here are a few other massive marketing fails.

4: Weeks in 2013 until Lululemon founder Chip Wilson stepped down as board chairman, following his assertion that the athletic apparel’s brand’s "see-through" yoga pants are a result of the size of women’s thighs.

4: Boxes of free single-serve coffee pods offered by Timothy’s Coffees of the World in 2007 for "liking" its Facebook page. The Canadian firm underestimates demand, can’t honour the offer and is forced to apologize.

5.8: Millions of US dollars in estimated losses to California restaurant Casa Sanchez, thanks to a 1999 promotion promising free lunch for life to customers who got a tattoo of its logo. The eatery is still paying out.

400: Millions of US dollars invested in producing the Ford Edsel before the Detroit firm pulled the plug on the vehicle in 1960. Ford sold 64,000 Edsels in its first year (1957).

1981: Year Pepsi entered the Chinese market and soon thereafter made a serious marketing error. Launching with the English slogan "Pepsi brings you back to life," the translation meant, "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave."

10,000: US dollars donated by sports clothing firm Pearl Izumi to the Boulder Humane Society in 2013, after publishing a print ad depicting a runner performing CPR on his dying dog.  

800,000: Subscribers lost by Netflix in 2011, after the firm introduced a streaming business called Qwikster to supplement its mail-order DVD business. Existing customers required two accounts and paid an extra 60% for both services.

About the Author

Steve Brearton


Steve Brearton is a freelance writer in Toronto.

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