Top five marketing disasters of all time

Rob Morrison
By Rob Morrison | 11 June 2013

Rob Morrison, creative director at OgilvyOne tells of his top five marketing disasters of alll time.

5. When your timing is out by just a fraction.
In a desperate attempt to get into social media Qantas launched the hashtag #qantasluxury. Unfortunately there was a massive airline workers strike about the same time so you got tweets like "#qantasluxury. Getting a pilot, a plane, engineers and baggage handlers." Ooops.


4. When the market moves but your product doesn't.
It had a boot big enough for a 44 gallon drum, a massive 4.4L engine and colours like Peel me a grape (purple). But when mixed together it made one of the ugliest cars ever built. And, in 1973, Australians were starting to look to economical Japanese cars instead of gas-guzzlers. The P76 single-handedly caused Leyland Australia to close its plant.


3. When a love story isn’t.
There was something wonderfully romantic about Heidi, the beautiful blonde, looking to be reunited with the man who left his jacket a café. News broadcasters picked up the story and it was everywhere. Unfortunately the actress playing Heidi pushed one too many product features in one too many interviews and the story slowly started to unravel. It was the first campaign to fail the now compulsory ‘authenticity test’.

You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video.

2. When the baby gets tossed with the bathwater.
In 1985 testing identified US consumers were moving to sweeter soft drinks (like Pepsi). So Coke changed the magical formula which held them in such good stead since 1886. A mistake so big it nearly cost them everything. Thankfully the business recovered and Coke is now among the world's best marketers.


1. When your irresistible offer really is.
In the early 90s Hoover UK offered two free flights with every new vacuum cleaner. It didn't take long for consumer's to realise the cost of the vacuum cleaner was lower than the cost of the flight. Just remember to throw the unwanted vacuum away on the way to the airport. Almost sounds funny until you realise the promotion cost 50 million pounds and sent Hoover UK broke.


Rob Morrison
Creative Director

comments powered by Disqus