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Marketing Degree FAILs: Misguided Campaigns

In today’s cutthroat world of marketing, a marketing degree is just the beginning. If a product is to be truly successful, the people driving the campaign have to be clever, innovative, and even somewhat offensive to catch the consumer’s eye. Long past are the days where a scantily clad celebrity can carry a product to great heights of success; people want to see scantily clad celebrities in interesting situations while saying clever things while simultaneously breaking the law… all while holding some meaningless new body spray or deodorant.

Besides the interesting problem of inventing a truly unique campaign, marketers are also faced with the issue of today’s over-stimulated society. Everywhere a person turns, they are visually assaulted by billboards, taxi ads, commercials, posters, fliers, and informative tips about great new products. Not even email has remained safe, with the all-knowing overlord Google fitting personalized text ads beside the inbox. When the goal of the rat race is to become the boldest, most cutting-edge player in the game, things can easily go wrong. Misguided campaigns have backfired tremendously, losing the company customers — but more importantly, those coveted hundred dollar bills, y’all. Here are some campaigns which missed the mark, left the company reeling and created a new unemployed guy with a marketing degree.

Splinter Cell

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What better way to promote a product than by creating negative press through fake but incredibly realistic crimes? The creators of Splinter Cell, a video game renowned for its graphic violence, were trying to figure out how to jar people awake and stir up interest. They decided on a two-man play in which a gun-wielding maniac would wave his weapon around in a frightening costume and talk about the upcoming Splinter Cell. Just kidding about that last part. No talking was involved, and the act took place in a New Zealand bar where the patrons had not a clue what was going on — and were immediately terrified by the realistic looking weapon. “He’s got a gun!” Someone yelled as the bar degenerated into chaos — preventing the second actor from coming in to save the day as planned. The police arrived, at which point the gun was discovered to be a fake. Sony’s marketing department had apparently never heard of cases in which even a shiny candy wrapper was mistaken for a gun before the candy-lover was shot to death. Someone’s marketing degree must have been forged. How stupid does a person have to be to think that’s a good idea? The game wasn’t even advertised during the stunt — no signs, nothing. Sony apologized, claiming that it was nothing more than ‘marketing gone wrong’, and was in no way an attempt to create an actual crime scene in which the police were involved.

Moms Hate Motrin

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In 2008, Motrin attempted to appeal to one of the largest demographics purchasing pain medication: mothers. Advil, Aspirin, Motrin, even Rite-Aid brand acetaminophen — whatever the brand, these little pills are essential to every household for treating homework-induced headaches, fevers, and the stress of fat old Aunt Jean extending her stay at the house for another month. Instead of focusing on the essential part that Motrin can play in any family’s household, the marketing degree morons basically insulted moms everywhere by depicting them as a group of haggard, strung-out lunatics who are constantly in pain caused by their babies. Although it may not be completely fabricated, a painful truth is typically not what a marketing campaign wants to focus on unless the campaign can do a great job convincing the buyer that the solution can be purchased from the advertising company. Motrin failed to do this when their research fell terribly short. The ad says:

Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion. I mean, in theory it’s a great idea. There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch. […] Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience. […] But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t? I sure do! These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. […] it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid. Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom. And so if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.

Ouch! Tired and crazy? Sounds like exactly the wrong words to describe a new mother to her face. Moms everywhere hated the campaign and boycotted Motrin, many of them creating YouTube videos to speak about how comfortable their baby slings are — and how off the mark Motrin’s campaign was. Insulting your target market is never good advertising — isn’t that taught in school before the students receive their marketing degrees?

Marc Jacobs – Intern Implosion

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Many companies leave Twitter and Facebook updates to the intern — a great way to save money, but a risky tactic when it comes to depending on a single (unpaid) individual to deliver interesting content in line with the brand. Marc Jacobs learned this firsthand when their intern cracked under the stress of ‘tyrannical’ boss Robert and decided to quit with a bang…or a tweet.

‘Good luck! I pray for you all. If you get the job! I’m out of here. See ya! Don’t want to be ya!’

Exposing company dirt and causing the brand’s professional, sleek image to falter were bad publicity indeed … but probably didn’t deter a single person from buying a pair of $1000 MJ shoes. The tweets were deleted, but not the guy with the marketing degree who gave this intern unrestricted access to the twitter even after the office was closed.

MyFakeWal-MartBlog.com

Flickr

Wal-Mart, the evil behemoth notorious for underpaying and mistreating their workers, was scrambling to garner positive coverage about their stores. True, the prices are Wal-Mart incredibly low. They also have almost every product imaginable. Lastly, it’s very easy to eat (not actually) free food during a stroll around the store before placing the empty bag of chips back on the shelf and checking out with the rest of your crap. It’s a relief that these material perks are not enough to keep the public enthralled with this evil entity, and Wal-Mart suffered regardless of their deals-and-steals. Enter Laura and Jim, the proud owners of a blog named Wal-Marting Across America.

They just love Wal-Mart so gosh dang much that on their RV fueled road trip across the country, they’ll stop in multiple Wal-Mart locations to photograph thrilled employees who are bursting with love and enjoyment. It honestly sounds like it could have passed for a regular blog made by two lunatics in love with consumerism, of which Wal-Mart is the ultimate embodiment. However, the marketing degree moron in this case didn’t bother to tell the couple that they should scale it down a little, and the internet was not convinced. It was soon discovered that Wal-Mart had been paying the couple to promote the brand, and the pictures of happy employees were total crap. Wal-Marts terrible PR firm lost the company 8% of its customers due to negative press in that year alone.

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