Marketing mistakes to avoid

Everyone makes mistakes, right? Usually we can just move on from them with maybe just a small dent in our ego. But what happens when companies make mistakes? Their bloopers can have a worldwide impact and cost huge amounts of money. Check out these few biggies that you definitely do not want to mimic!

Lost in translation

Are you considering marketing your products, services and brand globally?  Awesome, go for it. Just beware! Some brands have made the blooper list because they haven’t given careful thought to the issue of translation.

Check out these cringy marketing translation fails:

  • HSBC’s tagline “Assume nothing” was translated in many countries as “Do nothing”. It cost the bank $10 million to change its tagline to the more globally acceptable “The world’s private bank”.
  • When KFC opened in China their slogan “Finger-lickin’ good” was translated “Eat your fingers off”. No thanks!
  • Pepsi in China translated “Pepsi brings you back to life” to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”. Oops, that’s definitely starting off on the wrong foot.

Marketing Mistakes to Avoid - translation


So, if you are planning on global expansion, we suggest considering the following:

  • Do thorough cultural research.
  • Seek local involvement when marketing internationally.
  • Check what your brand name, tagline or even logo means in the regions into which you are wanting to expand.

Promising free stuff and then running out

Not cool! When running a competition or special offer on social media do not underestimate the engagement your offer will elicit. People looove free stuff and competitions. It ain’t gonna look good if you can’t back up your end of the bargain and you could spend ages regaining trust and reputation.

Timothy’s Coffee landed in hot water when they couldn’t meet their obligations to fans. They offered a free sample to anyone who followed their social media profiles. Unfortunately, they sold out in just three days! Despite a delayed apology, Timothy’s is still recovering from the backlash from fans.

Marketing Mistakes to Avoid - running out


Before you promise a freebie, take care of the following few points:

  • Think BIG, think success.
  • Be prepared – rather too much than too little.
  • Be realistic – ask yourselves if you can meet the demand. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Image fails

“An image is worth a thousand words.” Make sure your chosen graphics speak a thousand RIGHT words, or else your brand could face serious damage.

Pampers launched in Japan and retained their brand image of the stork delivering a baby. However, this made absolutely no sense to the Japanese as in their folklore giant peaches floating down the river deliver babies to parents.

American Apparel accidentally used the image of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster thinking it was fireworks. Social media went nuts. AA explained that someone too young to know had posted the image, but the damage was done.

Marketing Mistakes to Avoid - wrong image

Marketing Mistakes to Avoid - wrong image


You can delete a post, but you can’t delete people’s memory.

  • Check your facts and images thoroughly.
  • Be culturally sensitive and informed.
  • Ignorance is no excuse.

Unwanted new products

In 1985 the mega giant, Coke, thought it could improve on its recipe, and offered its consumers a new sweeter version of their drink named New Coke. Mmmm, so how did that work out for them? The response was crazy. Consumers hated it and people were stockpiling the older version and selling them on the black-market at insanely inflated prices.

Marketing Mistakes to Avoid - unwanted product


Keep within these parameters and you won’t go wasting your money on an unwanted product:

  • Know your audience and demographics.
  • Stay loyal to your current consumers.
  • Undertake thorough market research.

Unfortunately, we’ll never be perfect but with due diligence mistakes can be kept to an absolute minimum and your brand’s reputation intact.

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