Top 10 Marketing Blunders of 2008

Yeah, there’s a lot more than 10 here. What can I say? It was a very good year for very bad things.

(PS: If you liked this would you mind going here and voting for it on Digg?)



The John McCain Presidential Campaign

  • “Our economy, I think, is still — the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
  • Has no idea how many houses he (or his wife) owns.
  • Picks Sara Palin, the Broad to Nowhere who couldn’t find Russia or Africa on a map.
  • Campaign adviser and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina says Palin couldn’t run a major corporation.
  • Campaign adviser and former senator Phil Gramm says Americans are whiners about economic problems.
  • “Shutting down” his campaign to fix the bailout.
  • “Lipstick on a pig”
  • Egregious attack on Dungeons & Dragons that clearly cost him the election. (OK, maybe not so much the last one).


Runners Up

  1. Ford features “Space Oddity” — a song about astronaut suicide — in new car campaign.
  2. Framingham State College  uses the word blah 137 times in a 312-word fundraising letter.
  3. Disney (multiple entries): Bans kids from DisneyWorld restaurant; Changes “It’s A Small World” to “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America; and Sells “High School Musical” panties for tween girls with the phrase “Dive In” on them.
  4. Woolworths (UK) launches Lolita brand of beds for young girl
  5. JetBlue lives up to Southwest’s parody ad by charging for pillows.
  6. Russia uses smiling kids in tourism ad for war zone
  7. Residents of Lesbos sue those other lesbians over brand name
  8. Motrin gets headache from viral moms video
  9. Butcher’s ads feature “Meat Products, Fresh Service” on naked woman
  10. Hershey asks if you’ve found Mr. Goodbar

Special Jury Awards

Co-Branding That Shouldn’t Have Been

The Alpha & Omega of Over-reaching

Product Failure

The Penguins Of Irony “Oh NO You Din’t” Awards

Previous years’ lists

Penguin seal


Motrin gets headache from viral moms video

Motrin has just found out that moms are pretty thin-skinned when it comes to what other people say about moms even if it’s something the moms themselves say all the time.

In the beginning was an understandable idea: Sell more Motrin. To do that meant finding a market that might buy more Motrin.  After undoubtedly copious research Motrin decides: Moms! The method: a video called Motrin Moms. I’m pretty sure the next part of the plan was not: sit back and hide from a firestorm. But that’s what Motrin got once moms started watching the video.

The video is all text and voice over and starts with what I’ve always considered a very funny line: the observation that babies seem to be the latest fashion accessory. (Full-disclosure: I’ve been the stay-at-home parent, i.e. a mom, for most of my kid’s life.) Then it talks about all the ways of carrying a baby there are — front-loaders (my preference until he hit 20 lbs.), back-loaders, slings, etc., and how they can be a strain on your back hence the need for the product.

It also talks about how despite the pain we (moms) do this anyway because its probably good for the kid and certifies the bearer as a certified member of the mom club. Then came my favorite line: “So if I look tired and crazy people will understand why.”

There is a look that parents shoot each other — a look of total sympathy and understanding as the kid is going through his or her 13th major meltdown of the morning. I have been on both ends of that look. Receiving it has helped me keep my sanity, sending it has helped me bond with and I hope helped someone else keep their sanity.

But apparently that is the truth-that-dare-not-speak-its-name. Or maybe it’s the whole thing about babies-as-fashion-accessories. I’ve certainly thought it, but clearly I am surrounded by those who are without that particular sin.

The most interesting thing about this is that the fire seems to be spreading via Twitter, the first such time Twitter has actually had any impact that I am aware of. You may follow the posts here and it won’t take long, remember Twitter is what you get when cross a blog with a haiku.

Some of the comments are smart and some are achingly stupid: Like the person who said of negative reaction to the video, “What happened this weekend went from smart, powerful activism to Palin-rally lynch-mob.

FYI: Lynch mob is one of the two words/phrases to avoid at all costs in a discussion. The other is Hitler/Nazi. As soon as you use them the conversation is over and the shouting has begun. Adding the modifier “Sarah Palin” will not help either.

Not only do these words end a conversation but they also do a very real disservice to the victims of the actual lynch mobs and Nazis.