Top 5 Legendary Marketing Fails

Top 5 Legendary Marketing Fails


Even large companies are not immune from failure and sometimes make mistakes that can cost them millions or even billions of dollars. We at share 5 marketing failures that clearly show that a harmless mistake in one case can cause laughter, and in another can cost reputation or a huge financial outlay.

Avid travelers

Top 5 Legendary Marketing Fails 1

In the 1980s, as the commercial airline business in the United States was booming, demand began to slowly decline. The largest passenger carrier, in order to attract attention and thereby increase profits, began to sell certificates for unlimited flights. One such ticket cost 250 thousand dollars.

The air carrier expected that only rich people would buy golden tickets to transport their managers. However, the most ordinary citizens also saw the benefit. It was an offer that was very hard to refuse. Everyone started buying promotional offers.

So, for example, a resident of Chicago, Steve Rothstein, after purchasing such a ticket, became the most frequent visitor to the sky. Throughout his life, he managed to make more than 10 thousand flights, which cost the company $ 21 million. It happened that Steve got on a plane just to buy a sandwich in a neighboring state, or watch football with his friend. And on Saturdays, he liked to fly to Detroit.

Soon, the owners of the company realized that this action did not bring them any benefit. Moreover, over time it even led to losses. As a result, the American airline began to withdraw unlimited tickets from its customers. Of course, it was not without litigation and loss of reputation. To date, this company provides discounts on flights, but there are no more unlimited offers.

Tricky lure from Kaiwei Ni

Top 5 Legendary Marketing Fails 2

Often advertisers resort to a variety of tricks in the hunt for buyers. So, the Chinese manufacturer of sneakers Kaiwei Ni posted a “hairy trap” for page visitors on Instagram in stories.

In addition to the image of the shoes and the discount, the brand’s advertisers painted on hair that looked so realistic that it prompted most users to swipe it up. After that, unsuspecting people automatically landed on the website of the sneaker brand. The ad was quickly removed from Instagram as it violated the platform’s policies. Now the page of enterprising Chinese bloggers is closed. Fake hair became just a cheap gimmick that never really worked.

Number Fever by Pepsi

Top 5 Legendary Marketing Fails 3

Pepsi’s main competitor, Coca-Cola, firmly held the leadership in sales in Southeast Asia, occupying 75% of the market. In an effort to regain their position, Pepsi’s marketers and management came up with an ingenious marketing plan called “Number Fever”.

The action consisted in the fact that under the covers of the Pepsi drinks sold, a three-digit digital code was placed. And the person who found the number under the cover received from one thousand pesos and more. The main prize of one million pesos, and at that time it was almost 40 thousand dollars, was supposed to go to the only lucky one, whose number will be announced at the end of the competition.

The success was huge. Pepsi sales are up 40% in two weeks. But in this big barrel of honey there was also a small fly in the ointment, which spoiled everything – it was necessary to announce the winner and pay the prize money. And at the end of the action, it was finally announced that the one who had the number 349 under the cover would receive a million pesos.
But that’s where bad luck happened … The fact is that this number was mistakenly printed on 800,000 caps, which means that the company had to pay 800 billion pesos. Tens of thousands of Filipinos came for the prizes.

Pepsi representatives did their best to convince the participants that there was a glitch in the computer program. But deceived clients who never became millionaires flew into a rage. Mass riots broke out in the country’s capital, protesters burned trucks, smashed Pepsi factories and offices. The promotion turned into a real nightmare for Pepsi.

Weather Prediction by Walkers (Lay’s)

Top 5 Legendary Marketing Fails 4

In 2010, the British company Walkers, now better known under the Lay’s brand, decided to organize an interesting action – weather forecasting. The rules were simple: you buy a pack of chips, find a unique code, go to the company’s website and choose the day it will rain. If the prediction came true, then the buyer wins 10 pounds. And this despite the fact that a pack of chips cost about 40 pence. People, of course, hastened to take advantage of such a generous offer.

However, the marketers left out one very important detail, or the author of this promotion was not from the UK. Given that the action was held in autumn, and the weather at this time in England is usually rainy, it was not difficult to predict it. So, in the first rainy week, the company lost more than 1 million pounds, but honestly paid the buyers all the winnings.

Generosity from McDonald’s

Top 5 Legendary Marketing Fails 5

Back in 1984, the United States was chosen as the venue for the Olympic Games. Taking advantage of such a significant event to promote their product, the McDonald’s restaurant chain launched a marketing campaign. The company promised to distribute free meals to its customers for every medal won by athletes at the Olympics.

However, the unexpected happened, and this action almost led the company to financial disaster. The US’s traditional rivals, the USSR team, didn’t make it to the Olympics, and the US won a total of 174 medals while McDonald’s had to hand out a record amount of free food. The company did not disclose the amount of losses.