Every year, large corporations pay millions of dollars on marketing and public relations. They hire experts in the field that claim to possess insight into public opinions and buying habits and the knowledge to use that insight to further brand profiles. In spite of all the money spent on marketing, major companies often make major PR blunders.
In 2005, Snapple erected a 25 foot frozen Snapple-sicle in New York’s Union Square. It definitely gpt attention, but not all of it was positive. The brilliant minds behind the promotion didn’t take into account the heat of the day. The frozen marketing campaign melted in the midday sun and caused many bicyclists to have accidents in the sticky liquid.
In 2004, Target made a huge blunder,right as the Christmas shopping season was gearing up. Target announced that the Salvation Army was no longer welcomed to ring their bells outside of any Target store. Salvation Army bell ringers have become synonymous with Christmas after a century of tradition. Shoppers were outraged, and rival Wal-Mart, sensing an opportunity to draw blood in its battle against Target, announced plans to match customer donations at its stores.
Did you know that fried chicken is part of a healthy diet? KFC claimed that it was so in a 2003 television spot that promoted a breaded, deep fried chicken breast as an alternative to Burger King’s Whopper. The claims were so ludicrous that the Federal Trade Commission received numerous complaints and KFC was forced to pull the ads after just two weeks.
In 2004, motorcycling enthusiasts and actors Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor set out on a round the world adventure on BMW motorcycles. After 20,000 miles, the bikes roared into New York City, and sales of the motorcycles skyrocketed. Executives at Austrian company KTM were probably kicking themselves, because McGregor’s and Boorman’s first choice of cycles for the journey was KTM. After seeing the plans for the trip, KTM refused to provide bikes for the pair, citing the improbability of the actors completing the journey. Not only did they complete the trip, a successful reality show followed the actors- and their BMWs- throughout the adventure. A second trip is being planned and once again, BMW will be providing the bikes.
Perhaps no marketing blunder is so infamous as New Coke. In 1985, the Coca-Cola Corporation rolled out a new “better tasting” drink, replacing the version of Coke that had made the company the world leader in soft drinks. Response was mixed, but in the South, where Coke is an institution, Coke fans protested and boycotted the new drink. Coke officials were forced to concede that they had made a mistake. On July 10, the old formula was reintroduced with the term Coca-Cola Classic on the product label.