Every now and then it helps small business to take a look at some of the major marketing mistakes much larger businesses have made. It’s more than just seeing that even the pros get things wrong from time to time…it’s about learning from history. Here are just three of the biggest marketing blunders from the last 30 years that we could all learn from.
This incident tops nearly every marketing failure list out there. In 1985, Coca Cola company decided that it would out a fresh twist onto Coke in order to complete with Pepsi, a company that was gowing by leaps and bounds. Promising a new “smoother yet bolder taste,” the company put a lot of hype around the release of New Coke, having out about two years’ worth of research and tests behind it.
As we all know, the public essentially hated New Coke. They hated it so much that consumers were buying the traditional coke in droves to stock up. Coke eventually killed New Coke and promptly labeled their traditional and well-loved beverage “Coke Classic.”
In 1995, Sega announced to the public that its new system, the Sega Saturn, would be released in September. The release was to beat the Sony Playstation to the market by a single week. However, in a desperate attempt to be first, several retailers managed to get their hands on the Saturn as early as May, selling it for nearly $400. This was not a move that was clearly thought out; early release meant that there were only six games available for the system, none of which had been properly screened or tested.
Backlash was, of course, drastic and the Sega Saturn never lived down the failure. Playstation, on the other hand, went on to become a major home gaming hit.
McDonald’s and the 1984 Olympics:
Amped up for the Olympics, MacDonald’s kicked off a “USA Wins, You Win” gimmick. Customers were given scratch tickets that awarded them free food based on the US receiving a gold, silver, or bronze. Of course, McDonalds had no way of knowing that the USSR would boycott the Olympics that year, resulting in the US taking home 174 medals. The lesson here is to never run a contest where you have no control over the freebies you’re handing out.
So let history show you what not to do and, most of all, don’t let your mistakes define you. Notice that out of two of these examples, the company survived and are doing just fine.