“We should create a viral video!” How many times have you heard that suggestion? We’ll just create something so clever, it will be shared a million times. Everyone will share it on Facebook, and we won’t even have to pay for advertising. That’s how it works, right?
If only it were that easy.
It doesn’t mean creating hype is impossible. But it takes effort, strategy and budget. I can’t wait to hear from our March speaker to hear how the Spokane Arena markets their big events. I’m sure they have a lot of great tips and examples.
But we can also learn from those who do it wrong. I thought it might be fun to look back on some of the big flops and figure out how to avoid them.
1) Dr. Pepper and Guns N’ Roses – What happens when a big brand makes a deal it can’t follow through on? The soda maker famously promised a free Dr. Pepper for everyone in America if Guns N’ Roses released their album, which had been put off multiple times, by the end of the year (2008). Well, the band didn’t find it funny and release their album in November of that year. Then Dr. Pepper tried to offer coupons and make the giveaway work. But it blew up. The moral of that story is don’t underestimate Axl Rose. Just kidding, it’s don’t promise something you can’t deliver. It might be funny and attention grabbing, but it could come back to bite you.
2) Zune – Microsoft launched Zune with much fanfare in 2006, hoping to grab the market that iPod essentially already cornered. I couldn’t really remember why the Zune failed so miserably, other than it wasn’t Apple. And that’s probably the biggest reason. According to one former Microsoft executive, it was just too little, too late. You want to make sure you understand your competition completely and aren’t offering something that people don’t want.
3) Starbucks race talk – The coffee giant scratched the ill-fated "Race Together" campaign, after only six days. Turns out an issue as complex and sensitive as race relations isn't something people want to talk to their baristas about. This is a case of a brand wanting to be more than it is. Maybe stick to the macchiatos, Starbucks.
These are just a few from marketing's most recent history. For a countdown of some of the worst of all time, here's a video that counts them down.
Here's hoping none of us suffer from a similar fate as the Edsel or New Coke. And may we never see the creepy Burger King again.
By Annie Gannon, Spokane MarCom President