5 Big Marketing Fails of 2011

by Michelle McGinnis on Thursday, December 29, 2011 in Digital Marketing

Everyone makes mistakes. Marketers are no different. In fact, there are some nightmare scenarios many marketers have come to fear.

Most of the time those mistakes go unnoticed or blow over quickly. But the size and scope, along with the amplification of social media and bloggers, puts some marketing blunders on a grand stage.

In the spirit of moving forward with lessons learned, here are 5 big marketing fails of 2011.

1. Kenneth Cole Sticks Fashionable Foot in Mouth
Engaging customers on Twitter often requires an informal tone. But Kenneth Cole’s breezy mention of the revolution in the Egypt as means to promote their spring line sparked uproar. The brand apologized for the poor choice in Tweets.

2. J.C. Penney Faces Black Hat Backlash
The big time retailer found itself at the center of a New York Times expose on black hat SEO practices. J.C Penney was taking top ranking in organic search results due to thousands of links from seemingly unrelated websites. The Times cried foul, Google agreed and J.C. Penney plummeted in the rankings. The company fired its search firm in the aftermath.

3. Netflix and the Bad Fix
In what was supposed to be an apology letter for previously announced price increases, Netflix’s CEO announced the company would split up its DVD delivery and streaming movie services. Customers revolted. Industry observers shook their heads. Netflix quickly abandoned the plan.

4. PayPal Feels Regretsy
It was a lesson in how miscommunication escalates on the Internet. The popular site Regretsy.com created a campaign that allowed customers to purchase toys for underprivileged children. Payments servicer, PayPal, took issue with the site using the “Donate” button and eventually froze Regretsy’s funds. Regresty fought back. And the headlines weren’t pretty. PayPal later released the funds and even made a donation to the cause.

5. The New York Times Pushes the Send Button
Think people ignore every email? Consider the case of The New York Times and the mistakenly sent email. Just yesterday, the newspaper accidentally emailed over 8 million people a message meant for just 300. The email was intended to lure back a small group of subscribers. Customers thought they were being spammed and the Times had to send an apology note.

What marketing blunder would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below!

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