The Worst Marketing Mistakes of Recent Times

Marketing is an essential part of any business, and it can make or break a company. David Packard, the iconic co-founder of HP (HPQ), once said that marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department. Over the years, many companies have made mistakes in their marketing strategies, resulting in disastrous consequences. From Motorola (MMI) to Coca-Cola to Kraft, some of the biggest names in business have had to learn the hard way that marketing is not something to be taken lightly.

With more than 500,000 new companies starting in the U. S. every year and over $200 billion spent on marketing annually, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the worst marketing campaigns of recent times and discuss what went wrong and why.

We'll also explore some tips for avoiding similar mistakes in your own marketing campaigns.

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx

. Motorola has had one of the worst marketing campaigns on the planet. They always give products more names than anyone can remember.

In addition to having four names, this phone was even dual-branded with Verizon and had 4GS stamped in large letters on the back. Maybe they should have named it Motorola Verizon Droid Razr Maxx 4GS. It can be removed from the tongue, just like the iPhone.


. Coca-Cola learned the hard way that people don't always like products for the reason that marketers think they do.

Even though focus groups said New Coca-Cola tasted better, people simply didn't drink it because of its place in American culture. People wanted to drink the same Coca-Cola that their grandparents gave them on their birthday, the same Coke that Marilyn Monroe promoted, and the same Coke that Joe Green received in that famous 1980 Super Bowl ad.


. Kraft attempted to run a “fun marketing campaign” which was wildly inappropriate considering its primary target audience was children. It quickly received tons of negative comments and reactions from the public and Kraft quickly removed content from all their channels.

The Safety Warehouse


The Safety Warehouse backed its marketing, stating that “real money was given out at the event”. However, many other people think their marketing strategy was dishonest and tasteless, playing on the hopes and dreams of those who needed money most.


. When COVID-19 put much of our lives on hold, travel was one of the first things we lost. Corona's marketing strategy largely highlighted spring break activities and some still applied to promote their new product line.

At a time when buffets and indoor dining were limited to help slow the spread of COVID-19, an ad showing gatherings of friends sharing a meal from the same box of nachos probably wasn't the best option.


. Carrefour stood still on some traditional billboards and print ads while competitors such as Tesco, Giant and FairPrice spent their time adventuringly jumping into phone apps, QR code shopping, digital advertising, joint ventures and more. As a result, customers essentially forgot that Carrefour was there.

Ogilvy India

. Ogilvy India falls into this category with its brief advertisement for Kurl-On mattresses which showed renowned activist Malala Yousafza being shot in the head and falling on a Kurl-On mattress in several iterations before receiving an award again.

The culprit here was lack of content marketing.


. Adelaide embarked on a brand campaign and a complete redesign which quickly received tons of negative comments and reactions from the public.


. Nesquik discovered this the hard way after working on a massive and expensive project that included an app to give your photos chocolate rabbit ears and a push for a new National Rabbit Ear Day. In all these bad marketing campaigns, there are lessons to be learned about market research, buying people, attention-grabbing content and streamlined landing pages. When expanding in a new direction or running a campaign in a specific region, marketers should consider separating their brand and marketing for different products.

Additionally, when being artistic in your campaigns other people may interpret your message differently than you intended.

Laurence Gaff
Laurence Gaff

Friendly twitter maven. Friendly social media lover. Total pop cultureaholic. Professional food scholar. Subtly charming bacon specialist. Hipster-friendly food trailblazer.