9 Poorly Conceived Marketing Campaigns

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The world of marketing is a tricky thing. Most companies need to get the word out about their new product or service, but finding the best way to do it is often easier said than done when you want to be memorable, informative and entertaining all at the same time. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Lose so very badly.

Here are nine examples of poorly conceived marketing campaigns that left the companies behind them with pie on their face.

The Campaign: Panasonic Woody

Panasonic Woody

The Plan: Market a new touch screen PC with Woody Woodpecker as a spokesman

The Story: Back in the 90’s, Panasonic was all about making the Japanese home PC the awesomest thing it could be. User friendly, cool and down with the modern age. So naturally they got Woody Woodpecker to be the spokesman because 200 year old American cartoons really speak to Japanese consumers. With their Civil War era cartoon tie-in secured, the marketing team took the next logical step by naming the computer “The Woody.” The Woody, as you might expect, was superior to other computers because of its touch screen capabilities, which were naturally called “Touch Woody.” When an American finally explained why this made so many foreigners laugh like children, Panasonic managed to drop the “Touch Woody” name and shift focus to some of the PC’s other features including its support system, the much more maturely named “Internet Pecker.”

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  • Breeee Bree

    Just say no, Epic Fail

  • bobreaze

    Drug campaign failed because it just raised kids sucpicions about marijuana then they did some research tried it and realized the governemtn just hates us.

  • Timmer

    Well done. This was a great read.

  • Ian

    You are forgetting the Quizno’s subs commercials with those hamsters running all over the screen. That was the worst ad campaign ever.

  • Very entertaining article….some ads were funny and I wonder if the person who approved some of these ads are still working for the company?? I did find Calvin Klein’s ad very disturbing.

  • These are great examples of “Marketing Gone Bad.”

    I particularly like that General Motors campaign imploded, because it is similar to what Doritos and Ford are doing; letting the fans take over the marketing (for free) by spending their own money to create videos pushing the product. I don’t have a problem with the ads being created; my problem is with the fact that these people are being coerced into doing it for free.

  • Javi Valca

    I don’t think the McDonald’s one was poorly conceived at all and the people behind the campaign know exactly what it means. I actually found it fun and that was the point.

  • Gary

    The Wang computer tagline I heard referred to another computer company called A. B. Dick (they may have been a copier company). It went: “Pull out your A. B. Dick and put in a Wang.” Urban myth or not?

  • Great article. Mix a little cross-cultural ignorance with corporate growth, add some short-sighted goals and mix with a pile of advertising arrogance, and they really shouldn’t be surprised with the results.

    I think a great number “10” for this list of 9 worst could be almost any ad from big pharma. So many of them are irresponsible in the way they add a large dose of fear to their ads.

  • Really funny – companies pay big bucks to make big mistakes.
    Another good one from a long time ago is when Chevy tried to ship its popular car “Nova” to Latin American countries, problem… “No va” means “it doesn’t go (run)” in Spanish :)

  • Jason Goldman