Marketing is the process of creating and distributing content to attract new customers, boost brand awareness and keep consumers interested in a company’s product or service. Marketing can be a complicated and risky business, but it can pay off if it is done right. Companies spend a lot of money hiring professionals to come up with campaigns that will take their brand to the next level, but it doesn’t always work out as planned. Sometimes things go so badly that not only do the companies have to issue public apologies, but some of them were also hit with lawsuits in addition to losing customers. Here are some of the biggest marketing fails in history.
- Jägermeister’s Pool Party
In 2013, Jägermeister decided to host an event in an attempt to promote their brand in Leon, Mexico. The pool party which they threw at a private mansion was attended by 200 young adults and while trying to liven up the atmosphere, the event managers endangered the lives of everyone at the party. At the time, they thought that it would be a great idea to pour liquid nitrogen into the pool so that it would create a smoky effect. What they did not know was that when liquid nitrogen is added to chlorine, toxic gas is created. One by one, people fell unconscious, some of whom were in the pool. Amazingly, no one died, but one attendee went into a coma and eight others needed to be hospitalized.
- Dr. Pepper’s Treasure Hunt
In 2007, Dr. Pepper had a treasure hunt where they hid coins worth various amounts of money throughout the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Participants would have to find them by using the clues given by the company. Someone in the marketing team decided that one of the clues should lead to a coin worth $10,000 at a 350-year-old graveyard where the likes of John Hancock and Samuel Adams were laid to rest. The site was soon filled with participants who many feared would begin to dig up the site. Dr. Pepper issued an apology saying that the coin should never have “been placed in such a hallowed site.”
- Domino’s Tattoo Giveaway
In 2018, Domino’s pizza launched a unique marketing campaign that created such a buzz that they quickly had to make some changes. Anyone who got a tattoo of the company’s logo on a prominent part of their body and then uploaded it to their social media account, would be awarded with 100 pizzas a year for a century. They had no idea how many people were willing to accept the offer. The campaign was supposed to run for two months, but after receiving more than 200 uploads in the first 5 days, they quickly changed it to award the 350 people to get tattooed. Once the number was reached, they made the announcement on Facebook to encourage people to cancel their upcoming tattoo appointments.
- Paramount’s Bomb Scare
While promoting the release of Mission Impossible II, Paramount Pictures’ marketing team thought that it would be a good idea to put electronic devices in multiple news racks around the city. Once it was opened, it would play the theme song of the movie. What they did not put much thought into, was the look of the devices because they looked identical to homemade bombs. Concerned citizens around Los Angeles were calling in at an alarming rate with reports of bombs. The city’s bomb squad even blew up a news rack for suspected activity. Paramount placed over 4,000 devices around LA and the company was subsequently sued for negligence. They eventually settled for $75,000.
- Fiat’s Love Letter
In 1994, long before marketing mistakes could be broadcasted on the internet, car-company Fiat pulled one of the most outrageous stunts in marketing history. The company decided to mail over 50,000 love letters to women across Spain claiming to be from a secret admirer. The letter which was reportedly from someone who had noticed them on the street said, “I only need to be with you for a couple of minutes, and even if it doesn’t work out, I promise you won’t forget our little experience.” Understandably, many women thought that they were being stalked and decided to stay home out of fear that something terrible would happen. Two weeks later, Fiat sent a second letter explaining the ordeal while inviting them to a local Fiat dealer. They sued the company instead and won.