Penguins of irony rejoice: List of 2006’s worst marketing blunders blunders. Includes disasters from 2007.

Quotes sealCNN is running a story listing four of 10 biggest marketing blunders of 2006 as compiled by “Kelly O’Keefe, an independent branding consultant and CEO of O’Keefe Brands.” (Apparently it takes Kelly three months to come up with a Top 10 list as the person/company always puts out the list in March.) The big problem is that two of the four listed — TBS Aqua Teen Hunger Force silliness and JetBlue — took place in 2007. Maybe they meant biggest marketing blunders for the fiscal year ending March 07?

In CNN’s defense they do say “last year and even early this year,” but it sure reads like a very late Top 10 of 2006.

Consumerists’ 10 Worst Marketing Mistakes (sort of)

As insomniacs and other long-time readers now, I am a big fan of Consumerist.com. The site does a great job of reporting on consumers’ (mostly but not always) unhappy experiences with companies. If you’re a marketer it’s a must read so at the very least you learn what not to do. All that said, I was dissappointed to read their list of the Top 10 Worst Marketing Gaffes, Blunders & Disasters:

  1. Hindenberg
  2. Edison electrocutes an elephant
  3. Ford Edsel
  4. Tylenol Cyanide Scare
  5. Beatles Yesterday & Today album art
  6. Microsoft Blue Screen of Death press conference
  7. Calvin Klein amateur porno-style ads
  8. Honda robot falls down stairs
  9. New Coke
  10. McDonald’s I’d Hit It

I can come up with a bunch just in the last couple of years that are worse than anything on this list.

  • The Tylenol thing was a PR disaster at first but once it became clear that the poison was the result of an outsider the public pretty much forgot about it, witness the brand’s success since then. The on-going Bausch & Lomb eye wash nightmare is far worse. Last year it was linked to an infection that caused blindness and another batch just cropped up today. This happened because of something in the manufacturing process and the PR response was a nightmare. This could actually destroy the brand.
  • The Microsoft and Honda things were embarassing but no way are they in the 10 worst. I’d put Judy Regan’s OJ book fiasco way ahead of those two if for no other reason than it was a deliberate and planned effort, not just a mishap with the demo of a product.
  • McDonald’s I’d Hit It? Yeah, everyone got a laugh over the misuse of slang for intercourse, but it’s hard to see that as a huge disaster. How about the Vioxx or Ambien stories? Ambien got bushwhacked with a PR problem when Patrick Kennedy blamed it for his renewed drug problem, which wound up being a big plus for rival drugs which could say they were non-addictive. Merck currently faces 27K lawsuits over Vioxx and even if they win every one the brand has suffered permanent damage.
  • Yesterday and Today wasn’t even The Beatles worst PR disaster, let alone one of the top 10 of all time. The band’s worst was John’s comment about being more popular than Jesus.
  • How about BP having its claim of being environmentally friendly blow up in its face when their Alaska pipeline started leaking like the Celtic’s defense?
  • Or how about Enron or even JetBlue’s recent problems or GM/Ford/Chrysler continuing to push SUVs as gas hit $3 a gallon? Or NBC blowing rigging a Ford pickup truck to blow up? Or the great Ford Pinto fiasco?
  • Or KFC and it’s rodent problem?

Kudos to Consumerist for getting historical with Edison and the Hindenberg, but they need to get up to date with their current marketing disasters. You guys are still one of the channels-of-choice for tracking business stupidity, let’s get this list right. Keep the top 3 and the always-wonderful new Coke disaster and replace the rest with some real disasters.

Just a song before I go…

On vacation next week so few posts. But here’s something to tide you over:

Waylon Smithers must need cash: Why else would he be selling his collection of 4,000 Barbies … I mean Malibu Stacies?

The Return Of The Single Greatest Headline Writing Opportunity of the 21st Century:

All of the following are still available

  • Black Jack gambles it can ban Loving
  • Black Jack not a Loving town
  • Loving goes bust on Black Jack ban
  • Loving pair can’t make full house in Black Jack
  • Black Jack house rules: pair must split

Mr. Loving and his paramour have decided to sue the town of Black Jack, Missouri, claiming rules prohibiting the unmarried couple and their children from living together are unconstitutional.

Don’t Forget To Admit When You’re Wrong: Consumerist sets the story straight about the masked men and the 25K sauce packets. The upshot: No masks. Teens not grownups. Eleven 40-gallon trashbags, not six. Packets not taken on purpose. “One individual simply ate ‘A LOT’ of Taco Bell and stockpiled the extra packets from his meals in the back of his car for three years.” Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

And it’s not like I never post from the road. I remain proud of my coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Never let it be said that merely being on another continent is an impediment…

(from the original Collateral Damage @ CMO.)

Sep 01, 2005
Notes From The Road

Here I sit on the Blvd. St. Germain, in the shadow of some minor church that looks to have been already old when St. Joan was a schoolgirl. From a radio somewhere Curtis Mayfield is singing “Superfly” – bless the French, they may like J. Lewis, but they like the good stuff as well. I have just finished a fine omelette with tomatoes, onions and gruyere at a brassiere that is wonderfully indistinguishable from a dozen others. In front of me a grand parade of great Gallic noses ranging from large to magnificent pass by. The cliche is that the eye is the window to the soul but it is the nose that tells you if the soul is interesting enough to bother peeping into. If the French are looking down their noses at the rest of us, who can blame them? They are just enjoying the view.

I have no idea where the French got the reputation as being rude to travellers. I find them wonderful. And that is not just because I am from Boston, a city that really can not cast the first stone when it comes to being rude to others. The only trouble I have ever had was on my last trip here when I ran into a very rude person at the Tourism office. That was more than made up for this time by the man at the tourist office who helped us find a toy store that sold tanks and made Collateral Damage Jr. very happy. <BTW, French keyboards are laid out differently and don’t have apostrophes, so I am not totally to blame for my poor spelling this time.>

Looting in New Orleans? Isn’t that redundant?  Given the corruption of that city’s government in general and the police department in particular I cant help but think the citizens view this as though they are finally getting their cut.

What is truly appalling in the wake of Katrina is how badly the relief and rescue efforts have been bungled. It’s not like they didn’t know this was coming. Officials have been expecting and planning for this disaster practically since the French <AH HA!> settled the damn city. Even so all the government agencies appear too have been caught flat footed: This should deservedly cost a lot of politicians and bureaucrats their jobs

Sept. 02, 2005
More notes from the road

I am writing this from an internet cafe across from the Lycee Charlemagne – given the age of the students I would say roughly high school. It is oddly relieving to note that French teenagers look every bit as stupid with a cigarette as American teens do. I have just stumbled across a wonderful English bookstore on rue Saint Paul called The Red Wheelbarrow (after the poem by William Carlos Williams). I had a fine converstation with the owner, whose name I didn’t get (bad jounalist bad! No croissant for you!). She, who has my dream job, is from New York and went to school in Boston. I am (now) from Boston and went to school in New York. Those fine coincidences make the day.

We talked about how difficult it is to be in the midst of current events – both the aftermath of Katrina in the States and the two horrible fires that have killed so many families here in Paris – and at the same time remembering to cherish our blessings and good fortune.

It is a strange thing being so far away from the states when a disaster hits. It’s not as though being in Boston would put me closer in any real sense to Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, but still I have the feeling I should be home – plugged into my communication network and therefore being responsible, not frittering my time away on something as frivolous as vacation. Call it vacationer’s guilt.

In watching the president on CNN and the BBC, I am struck by how much this disaster needs and doesn’t have a Giuliani. If not a hero, then at least grown up who is willing to say honestly how bad things are and what they do or don’t know. That gave Rudy a credibility so we trusted him when he said things will get better. Never mind getting the Ex-Presidents involved in this, maybe the current president should see what Mr. G is up to.

Watching the coverage of all this on those two TV networks, their reports are so at odds with what the people at FEMA and elsewhere in the government are saying that I am forced to conclude that either the press has grossly overplayed how bad things are or that the government is more concerned with spin than facts – sadly, either is a real possibility.

What is certain, and what we are just beginning to hear about, is that the defense of “no one could have predicted this” is absurd. The threats to New Orleans have been documented thoroughly. If you doubt this go back and look at coverage at the start of every hurricane season. The “what will happen if New Orleans gets it” story is written and re-written every year.

There is a huge difference between how the Beeb and CNN are covering Katrina. Both because the Brits seem to feel that there is still other news going on in the world as well – the deaths by stampede in Iraq, the anniversary of the massacre at the school in Beslan in Russia, typhoons hitting both Taiwan and mainland China – and because the BBC people are much more comfortable asking people, officials and people on the street, difficult questions. At CNN, they appear much more concerned with being liked, with letting the viewers know that CNN feels the same things the viewers do. It is the difference between an having an avocation and building a brand. CNN has put a heavy emphasis on heartwarming and funny stories of survival. Last night’s interview with the two ex-prez was one soft ball question after another. The only thing more appaling was what I saw of Diane Sawyer’s interview with the current president. I assume the president is upset by the devestation, so stop asking him about that. Facts, please.

Two predictions:

1. If, in fact, the word refugees is accurate and sticks around, there will be hell to pay from the American public. Refugees happen in other countries, not the US.
2. Louisiana, being Louisiana, there is a story of corruption and malfesance at the heart of this disaster that will boggle the mind.

 
 
     
   
   
 
 
 
     
   

Target has perfect gift for your favorite telephone co. president

Doormat currently available at Target:

$15.99.

How weird a moment have we reached when even Target is getting edgy? As a bonafide trend spotter this says just one thing to me: It's quiet out there. Too quiet. The natives are getting restless.

Found at The Consumerist.

OH, Consumerist… how could you?

One of my favorite blogs which, with great attitude, whacks bad customer service and products included a plug for something from CafePress, a company whose merchandise I find to be very shoddy. Everything I have ordered from them — t-shirts, those refrigerator magnets I am sending out to the “lucky” winners, a bumpersticker — has turned out to be overpriced and cruddy quality. The designs on the shirts wash off after not terribly long, the magnets are so week you actually can’t put a piece of paper between them and the refrigerator. Fehhh. In Consumerists defense the graphic that attracted them to the product is way, way cool.