Contrary to many people’s beliefs, great products or amazing services are not the formulae to running a successful business. With so many competitors in the market, it’s important for every company to lure customers. This happens through marketing.

Every company brainstorms on a daily basis to create the best marketing campaigns. Getting viral has become easier with time. From catchy taglines to celebrity endorsements, different things have worked out different brands. However, marketing is not an easy task.

Marketing is tricky and at times risky. While it promotes being bold, the results are not always rewarding. There are many common mistakes that multiple well-established companies have made in their different campaigns.

It is these marketing blunders that can prove to be a significant lesson for every company.  Learning from other company’s mistakes is better than making one yourself. So here are some marketing lessons from famous marketing blunders:



The Pepsi Challenge in 1975 along with other marketing strategies were proving beneficial for the emerging company. On the other hand, the successful company Coke was only able to demonstrate how confused it was. In the beginning, Coke started selling sweeter Colas.

Later they launched New Coke. This was a sweeter version of the original Coke.

Marketing lessons from Marketing Blunders
Image source: Conversionuplift

According to Coke, this new version was sampled in more than 200,000 taste tests. Additionally, they claimed that it also received glowing reviews. However, this was far from what customers felt.

Customers found the new brew to be extremely sweet for a soda. Moreover, the New Coke was a failure.


Coca-Cola could have experimented with ad campaigns and stressed the originality. But rather than playing on their strength i.e. their successful drink, they did the exact opposite. Experimenting and launching new products is good. However, a company should always be cautious bout altering the products that helped them grow.



The clothing and accessories retailer is a known and trusted brand. Generally, companies are told to improve brand image and keep their brand up to date. This is exactly what GAP aimed to do.

The company wanted to freshen up its look with a new logo. But the neuroscientists at NeuroFocus concluded that the logo didn’t register as something cool or attractive to the participants.


An important rule in marketing is to be consistent with branding. This especially applies to successful brands like GAP which have a large customer base. So companies should be very careful when it comes to experimenting with the verbal and visual elements of their brands. Something as small as a change in a logo can alter the customer’s trust in your brand.



Vitaminwater sells nutrient-enhanced water beverages. This Canda-based company came up with the idea to highlight the country’s bilingual population through their marketing. They decided to execute this idea by putting a mix of English and French words on their bottle cap.

Marketing lessons from Marketing Blunders
Image source: CNBC

However, the problem arose when a young woman with a half-sister who had cerebral palsy opened a bottle that read “you retard”.


The company had reviewed the words from the perspective of a French speaker. But the same should have been done for English. Such mistakes are often made by companies. Proofreading and consulting a larger team before executing any campaign should always be a priority.



Oscar Pistorious, the double-amputee Olympian featured in a Nike ad. This depicted many athletes in motion. The voice said that an athlete’s body is their weapon. The caption for Pistorious was along the same lines. It read: “I am the bullet in the chamber.”

The same athlete was then charged with murder with a firearm. This made the advertisement very ironic but it was not Nike’s fault. It was a marketing blunder that was out of the company’s hands but couldn’t be overlooked as well. Hence, Nike released some press statements and withdrew their sponsorship.


This case explains the issue with celebrity endorsements. Nike isn’t the only case. Organizations take immense risks when they endorse individuals or groups. Any mistake from these celebrities can reflect poorly on the business.

A company can only stay aware of such endorsements and try to work with trustworthy people.



Marketing demands creativity but there is a fine line between a hit campaign and a failure. Sony had its share of a disastrous advertising campaign in 2006. The company launched a white PSP device but the mistake was the giant billboards that advertised the same.

Marketing lessons from Marketing Blunders
Image source: Bestmediatechs

The advertisement showed a white woman subduing a black woman. Sony intended to show the new white model is better than the old black one. Despite the brand’s intention, many people found it to be racist. However, the worst decision that Sony took was the way they choose to deal with the controversy.



Being artistic is essential and beneficial while designing marketing campaigns. But many people may interpret your message in an alternative way. So check your content through multiple perspectives.

In addition to this, a company should respond swiftly to any controversy but while being sensitive and understanding. It’s important to sense the reason for the backlash and respond in a manner that finally portrays the company in a positive light.

Summing Up

Such disastrous marketing cases demonstrate how marketing is a challenging field. Even after strategic planning and positive intentions, many strategies and campaigns turn out to be a complete failure. However, these cases lead us to one moral that is to think every action through.

The marketing team must think and carefully inspect every aspect of their campaign. Additionally, they should also proofread every word and check every photo that they employ to communicate their message. Every organization wants to grow and get viral. However, it’s important that you get attention for the correct reason and not a disastrous controversy.

We at Shaktiki understand the demanding nature of marketing and how it requires expertise. So we can provide the marketing solution to make that marketing wonder.

Get in touch with us today and book a free consultation with us to address all your marketing needs.