In today's world of easy sharing on social media, marketing stunts can backfire and embarrass companies very quickly and publicly.
Videos and hashtags are shared every second that can cripple a company if they don't adequately plan their promotions. Just because something goes viral does not automatically mean that it is a good thing.
Not all publicity is good publicity
Remember the Dove ad that showed a black woman transforming into a white woman after using Dove body lotion? Who knows what the intended message was, extreme backlash was felt on social media from all women who felt offended. The ad directly went against Dove's core message of "all beauty is real beauty."
Even though the video was widely shared, it definitely painted Dove in a bad light. At best they appeared ignorant and sloppy with their ad message. At worst the Dove brand became a vehicle for racism.
Free pizza equals problems
Recently, a Russian Domino's franchise launched a campaign that offered 100 free pizzas per year for 100 years to any customer who put a Domino's brand logo tattoo on their skin. It was supposed to be a two month long promotion, but was forced to be canceled after only four days when 381 people took advantage of the offer.
The Russians did the math and realized that they could get two free pizzas a week for their entire lives at a cost of a single tattoo. The franchise ended the promotion because it spread too quickly and already cost the company thousands of dollars a month in free pizza. Who knows how many people could have gotten tattoos during the two month promotion.
This is one example of not thinking through all of the ramifications of a marketing campaign.
Get a second opinion
Most marketing missteps are the result of not seeking outside guidance. Usually in an effort to capitalize on a trend or quickly boost sales, a marketing campaign is rushed into publication without adequate vetting.
Spending a little time and money on impartial judges can save a lot of embarrassment.
Are there any unfortunate marketing campaigns or ads that come to mind? Maybe you have personal experience in a flop. Share your stories in the comments below.
Ethan Hausmann is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach for Successtar Enterprises LLC. He is an author, professional speaker, and seminar/workshop instructor. Ethan has extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, customer service, leadership, and other small business related concerns.