Global Branding (and Some Epic Misses)

Building a global brand is more than just a fancy website and humorous advertising. Global companies have to think about cultural norms and social implications for each market they decide to enter. This semester Nicole Knicker and I (Elizabeth Jebejian) will be exploring Global Branding and the good, the bad, and the in between of our current marketplace.

This week we wanted to discuss implications of branding gone wrong. Marketing is all about creating a buzz around your product, getting consumers to talk about it and becoming a leader in the marketplace. The response all marketing campaigns are looking for are increases in sales, brand awareness,  marketshare, volume and velocity. These marketeers are looking for  increased demand for their products (almost to the point where they can’t keep their product on the shelves).

We all remember the Tickle Me Elmo epidemic of 1996. Parents in the US were literally fighting other parents in the isles of toy stores to get this doll. This limited supply of dolls, due to unprecedented demand, lead to increased price of the dolls. The price during the Christmas Holiday started at $28.99 up to a staggering $2,500.00 per doll.


The company that produced the dolls, Tyco Preschool a division of Tyco Toys, could not have anticipated such a high demand for this doll. Although the company did nothing wrong, the “must have” reaction by consumers left a lasting impression, clouded by the thoughts of grown adults ripping this toy out of each others baskets (or even each others hands). This craze blew over after the 1996 holiday season but  the long term impression of how consumers took an innocent children’s toy and turned it into negative noise in the marketplace lingers on.

Although the above example details how consumers can turn a companies products into negative branding then next video we present discusses how huge companies like McDonalds, Facebook and Coke can launch huge marketing campaigns gone really REALLY wrong.

So you just saw the top 10 Marketing Failures… Let’s dig a little deeper into the lesions we can all learn from. By the way most of these companies recovered just fine!

#10 McDonald’s 1984 Olympic Campaign: If you can’t control the campaign don’t do it. How could McDonald’s allocate enough funding to this campaign not knowing how the US medal count would eventually turn out? By leaving this up to chance McDonald’s rolled the dice and took a major financial hit for this mistake.

#9 Facebook’s Beacon Application: Keep your customers in mind. The beacon application shared users private information with advertisers worldwide. By assuming the role of puppet master, Facebook orchestrated giving this information away with out getting the buy in of their users.

#8 Burger King’s Creepy Character: Don’t cross the line between funny and frightening. Burger King’s advertisements featuring “The King” became a viral sensation mostly because they were more disturbing than playful. What’s better getting customers to remember your commercial because they want to try your product or because it terrified them?

#7 Snickers ad with Mr. T: Don’t segment your consumers. By paring up Mr. T a testosterone driven, macho man with a scrawny, speed walking “girly man” Snickers made the mistake of counting out a segment of their male consumers. Gay rights groups were in uproar and Snickers paid for this bad PR mistake.

#6 Skittle’s Touch the Rainbow Campaign: Be memorable, not a memory. By alluding to the fact that the man in the commercial turns everything into Skittles, even humans, casts a dark shadow over a seemingly clever ad campaign.

#5 AYDS Diet Candy from the 1970’s: Expect the unexpected. Even the best marketing team can not foresee worldwide disasters. This company had the unfortunate luck of coming out with a product that had the same name as a disease that became an epidemic a few years later.

#4 Honda Asimo: Practice, practice, practice. Plain and simple, before you make a worldwide debut make sure your product does what it says its going to do.

#3 Netflix Qwikster Fail: Stick to what you’re good at. By trying to stray from what customers knew them for, Netflix lost customers and profits. If they had just had a little faith that they were the best at what they set out to do they would have never tried to expand in to digital downloads.

#2 The Ford Edsel: Don’t under deliver. When you get your consumers interested in your newest product you better exceed their expectations. Ford ended up over selling this model and customers were at best underwhelmed.

#1 New Coke: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Why change something your consumers love? Why spend the time, money and recourses to replace a product that is doing well? My answer boredom… How bored must your marketing and R&D teams be to try and reinvent something that is working?

Stay tuned for our blog next week about good marketing strategy and what brands have done right.

Nicole & Elizabeth