What You Can Learn From Epic Marketing Errors

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People learn more from mistakes than successes. Check out these major marketing disasters. They could help you avoid making similar errors.

Brand bomb

When done right, a new brand can be a great way for a business to re-introduce itself to the public. It can generate a lot of free press and online buzz that gets consumers to take a fresh look at a stodgy or stagnant company.

Several years ago, The Gap was in a period of decline. Consumers were tired of the retailer’s standard mix of shirts, jeans and khakis. The company decided to put a fresh new face on its decades-old designs by updating its brand and changing its logo.

The issue: The Gap did not test its new logo with consumers before it was launched. The retailer only discovered that the public hated it after it was released. Fake websites and social media parodies were launched to mock the new logo, which experts described as looking like it came from a clip-art factory.

The outcome: What should have been a boon for The Gap’s brand turned into a bust. The new logo didn’t make the company seem fresh. Instead, it made it seem even more out-of-touch with its consumer base.

The takeaway: When approached correctly, a brand can be a great way to relaunch a company and present it to consumers in a new light. It is a thoughtful, deliberate process that involves research, testing and refinement. Following a sound process will help identify aspects of a new brand that don’t ring true to consumers. This is particularly important today when a corporate error can quickly go viral on social media and inflict significant damage.

Updating a brand isn’t a do-it-yourself project. An experienced agency will leverage time-tested techniques to ensure it’s done correctly.

The Twitter chat that wasn’t

More and more financial firms are jumping into social media. This is a good thing when social connects clients and prospects with firms that seem big, distant and aloof. However, this wasn’t what happened when J. P. Morgan decided to host a Twitter chat.

The issue: In 2013, as part of the #AskJPM campaign, J. P. Morgan asked people to submit questions that would be answered by experts from the bank. The problem is that the financial industry was still unpopular at the time, so the firm’s Twitter feed was overwhelmed by negative and sarcastic comments.

The outcome: J. P. Morgan was forced to cancel the chat. What should have been a social media coup became a rout, creating a negative impression of the firm.

The takeaway: Social media is a great way for financial and professional services companies to connect with clients and prospects. However, ideas have to be tested before they’re executed broadly. Perhaps if J. P. Morgan had asked consumers IF they were interested in a Twitter chat before launching one, they would have uncovered the discontent in their client base.

If you’re not sure how to launch a social campaign effectively, an experienced agency can help.

Dan is NOT the man

Progressive’s ubiquitous Flo is a multimedia marketing sensation. She’s popular on television, streaming media and social media (almost five million Facebook followers).

Barclay’s Dan was never as popular. He was introduced by the British financial company to help humanize it with their consumer base.

The issue: Barclay’s turned Dan into a pretty simplistic character. They used him to teach financial lessons that were a little too basic. One campaign tracked how he spent money for a week so he could find more cash to enjoy his summer. Another recommended that Dan brown bag it so he could buy a ticket to a car show. In a world where people are concerned about purchasing homes, starting families, saving for college and living through long retirements, the simplistic solutions didn’t resonate with consumers.

The outcome: Dan disappeared almost as quickly as he arrived on the scene, damaging Barclay’s credibility.

The takeaway: Using fictional characters can be a good way for financial firms to connect with consumers. Flo proves it. While Flo is silly sometimes, her humor never underestimates the intelligence of Progressive’s target consumer base. Using an authentic tone and the right messaging are critical to making characters resonate with consumers.

Go viral for the right reasons

Today, social media can spread the word about GREAT marketing campaigns quickly and at little or no cost. It will also make people aware of BAD ones faster than ever. You owe it to your firm to leverage the power of social media to build awareness of your brand and the products and services you offer — without jeopardizing its reputation.

An agency experienced in developing and executing sophisticated marketing campaigns can help. Check out Carpenter Group’s perspective on digital marketing. Then contact us to find out how we can work with you to plan and execute your marketing programs.