Marketing Lessons from Marketing Blunders

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.

Which are the best marketing campaigns of all time?

A major turning point in the history of the world was the expansion of trade and to be specific overseas trade. Today, the modern world is a commercial place. Commerce knows no borders. Business is booming in the sense that a person in India is using a smartphone of an American company. While the phone might be manufactured in China.

How does an Indian know about this product? What makes people willing to spend a whole lot of money to buy products? How are companies today constantly able to expand their customer base?

Marketing campaigns that make a difference

Even if you lack interest in business and commerce, there are still great chances that you are familiar with the word ‘marketing’. However, it cannot be defined as a mere process essential for a company.

Marketing serves the basic purpose of allowing a customer with the required details about the products or the services. Additionally, it provides a fertile playing field for small businesses to compete against big names. While we all are familiar that it helps in increasing sales and hence expand a business, we need to remember it does more than that.

“Marketing today is not a function; it is a way of doing business. Marketing is not a new ad campaign or this month’s promotion… Its job is not to fool the customers, nor to falsify the company’s image. It is to integrate the customer into the design of the product and to design a systematic process for interaction that will create substance in the relationship.”

– Regis McKenna

The existing customers engage constantly with the company through its marketing tactics. It keeps a conversation going without any physical interaction. This forms a bond intrinsic to the modern idea of running a business. But marketing should also be valued for allowing growth. Marketing strategies can target potential customers and turn them to actual customers. This elevates marketing to an art, a creative process that has become essential in the modern sphere.

Some companies started marketing campaigns that understood the importance of advertising. It is these companies that initiated a conversation with customers who responded well to them. They can be a source of great motivation and knowledge. So, here are some of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time:

Nike’s Just Do It.

If you want to buy a pair of running shoes today, then which brand you will instantly choose to rely on? Most of you will pick a pair of Nike shoes.

Today the brand dominates the athletic apparel industry. However, it did not have the same status before. There was a point when the company only catered to marathon runners. On the other hand, Reebok was selling more sneakers than Nike. Yet Nike aimed to climb to the top spot and created the “Just Do It” campaign. The late 80s was a period of growing national fitness movement. Their campaign motivated people to push beyond their limits. Superstar athletes like Michael Jordan backed the campaign. As a result, the slogan became one of the most recognisable. The campaign was relatable in the sense that it recognised everyone’s dilemma of not feeling like working out. Nike provided their customers with the answer – ” Just Do It”.

Marketing Campaigns: What did they do different?

The impact of this marketing campaign was noteworthy. Nike’s sales were at $800 million in 1998. It surpassed $9.2 billion by 1998.

Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke

The race in the business world is constant. It’s not only small companies that are forced to think creatively and act differently. Big brands also face this need to constantly attract and engage customers. This is why Coca-Cola started the ‘Share a Coke’ marketing campaign.

The campaign which started in Australia in 2011 appealed to customers as it printed names on each bottle. Coca-Cola personalised each bottle with the most 150 most popular names in the country. The United States followed the example and printed first names across its bottles and cans. People could even order custom bottles on the company’s website.

Marketing Campaigns: What did they do different?

This functioned as a breaking story across the marketing industry. Moreover, the campaign gained immediate attention and attracted a large number of customers.

Volkswagen’s Think Small (1960)

Marketing and advertising professionals often call Volkswagen’s “Think Small” the gold standard. A legendary advertising group at Doyle Dane & Bernbach (DDB) created it in 1960. The company faced a major challenge. It answered a greater question about how to change people’s perceptions of an entire group of people.

Americans were always inclined to buy big American cars. Despite 15 years after the end of the second world war, they still never bought small German cars. This is why the company decided to play right into people’s expectations.

Marketing Campaigns: What did they do different?

You think I’m small? Yeah, I am. Volkswagen never tried to portray themselves as something they were not. The campaign taught that customers recognise, appreciate and value honesty.

Google’s Year in Search (2017)

Some companies create an advertisement that’s so true and powerful to forget.

Year in Search started in 2009 and serves as a written report of the most common Google searches over the past 12 months. Then Google adopted it for a three-minute video. This serves as a reminder of how much everyone is dependent on Google.

Google’s advertising campaign then reminds customers that they care. It unites everyone and promotes an uplifting message of how everyone’s usage of the company’s products reflects the best in all.

De Beers’ A Diamond is Forever (1999)

De Beers built the industry. It presented the idea that no marriage is complete without a diamond ring. Hence, they made diamond rings a necessary luxury. This teaches an important marketing lesson that advertising is beneficial even for luxurious products that portray them as a necessity.

These are marketing campaigns designed for different mediums. While earlier advertising was an expensive affair, today it’s not. The digital space has expanded at an unbelievable rate. Online medium provides an advantage to all its users. The ever-growing business world entered the digital sphere and so did marketers. But if you haven’t, then this is the time to switch to digital marketing!

At Shaktiki, we provide purpose-driven marketing solutions to help businesses thrive. Our approach assists brands in communicating their shared values of responsibility and sustainability to their customers, demonstrating trust in their business. We create impactful content that empowers our clients to effectively tell the story of their unique brand.

Get in touch with us today to know more about how we can help your brand excel.