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Even the big guys can be fools

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Even the big guys can be fools A bad marketing choice by Cartoon Network

This April Fool's BIZ column is intended to make you feel a lot better about all the marketing mistakes you've made in your business or work. Major corporations that employ well-educated and well-paid marketing professionals have made their share of mistakes, too. Here are some of the most epic corporate marketing boo-boos.

GAP should have done a little more market research when they launched a logo re-design in 2010. The new and 'improved' logo lasted for exactly two days. GAP came across as trying to be too trendy with their newly-designed logo. What they didn't anticipate was the negative backlash from their customers who were loyal to GAP because of their basics - not trendy styles.

Cartoon Network's 'oops' turned what was supposed to be a clever marketing campaign into a terrorism scare. In 2007, they launched a guerrilla marketing campaign by setting up LED signs throughout cities to promote one of their cartoons. A Boston resident thought one of the signs was a bomb. This resulted in a terrorism scare and the shutting down of the public transportation system. Cartoon Network had to pay out $2 million to the city to compensate them for their bomb scare boo-boo.  

Remember New Coke? Yeah, that didn't last long. The year was 1985, and Coke was feeling threatened by their rival Pepsi. So in their infinite wisdom, they changed the formula to taste a little more like their rival. Turns out we liked the original Coke! New Coke was taken off the shelves, and Coke was renamed 'Classic Coke' to make it clear that the traditional formula was back. It was costly mistake that teaches us not to mess with tradition!

Pepsi has had their share of 'oops,' too. When Pepsi expanded their market to China, they launched with the slogan, 'Pepsi brings You Back to Life.' What they failed to realize was the Chinese translation meant, 'Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.' That didn't go over so well.   

Other companies have made some international blunders:

Coors beer clearly didn't check a Spanish dictionary when they launched their 'Turn It Loose' campaign in Spain. Translated into Spanish, it meant 'Suffer from Diarrhea.'

Colgate should have had a clue when they introduced their toothpaste called 'Cue' in France. 'Cue' is the title of a French naughty magazine.

When Clairol introduced their curling iron in Germany, the name 'Mist Stick' didn't appeal to many. 'Mist' is slang for 'manure' in Germany. Needless to say sales of the 'Mist Stick' poo-pooed out.

Poor Frank Perdue. The man makes tender chicken. When the company expanded into Spain, they took their American slogan with them: 'It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken.' The Spanish translation meant, 'It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.'

Anyone craving baby? We all recognize Gerber baby food jars because of the cute picture of the baby on the label. But in Africa, the pictures on food jars denote what's inside the jar. Nuff said.

Don't be fooled into thinking the big boys always know what they're doing! They've made their share of marketing mistakes and, in most cases, survived. So as you go about your business or work today, take comfort in knowing that none of us are perfect. But definitely do your homework before launching a new marketing campaign so you don't look like a fool!        


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