52 Degrees North News

Business Failures – when marketing goes wrong!

Business Failures – when marketing goes wrong!

Business Failures – when marketing goes wrong!

Brands are considered to be a combination of diverse expectations, associations, relationships and stories. The most important thing to note here is that the connecting link is the customer. They form expectations that need to be fulfilled. Determine your credibility based on brand associations. Assess growth and profitability based on the quality of the relationship and, finally decide whether your story should be heard. With all this in mind, the importance of branding for businesses is undeniable. As subjective as customer perception may be, it is what people feel your company represents and stands for. The values it holds dear and the objectives it wants to achieve.

You may find, through surveys, that the way people perceive your brand may not be exactly the way you intended it. In a situation where your brand has developed a negative image, it can result in things like a massive loss of sales and, subsequently, profitability. People may lose any connection they have with your brand, and may instead be overwhelmed with feelings of mistrust. In most cases, while some people may tend to forget, your customers will move away from your brand towards a competitor who will have taken advantage of the vacuum you will have created.

There have been many brands that have suffered the repercussions of failed projects. They include:

1. Snapchat

Not too long ago, Snapchat redesigned its application to facilitate the better placement of ads. The CEO, Evan Speigel, believed that the update would bring about new life to the application. The effect, however, was that Snapchat experienced the loss of 1.2 million users worldwide because users felt that it had become much more challenging to use. This loss of a massive market share is what led them to revert to the old style in regards to some features. 

Snapchat Logo

2. Pepsi

Pepsi featured Kendall Jenner in a commercial in which a racial standoff was solved just by the offering of a can of Pepsi. As people claimed that the entire movement was oversimplified, this resulted in public outrage. The commercial was decommissioned immediately from commercial channels because of the level of backlash, and the company issued a public apology.

Pepsi Logo

3. Dove

To remain competitive in today’s market, you will have to know what platform for marketing will be right for you. With so many options, you will have to filter out based on what the aim of the campaign is; more attention, sale of the product. Although Dove had had a great run with their body-positive moments, they seemed to enter troubled waters not so soon after.

They equated women’s body to 7 specific soap bottles. This lead to public protests that criticised the concept of the alliance of diverse body types to a particular set of shapes rather than letting them be what they are. In reaction, the company removed the soap bottles, highlighted their mistake, apologised and realigned their objective of uplifting women

Dove Logo

4. McDonald’s

McDonald’s was accused of using grief as a tool for selling their food through their advertisements. The ad included a boy reminiscent of his late father, and their mutual love of Fillet-o-Fish for his mother. The public did not accept that, as they accused the company of being insensitive. After an apology was made, the commercial was decommissioned immediately from all channels.

mcdonalds Logo


Of course, for every misstep, a business has to be able to react so that they can minimise the damage caused to their brand. The best thing to do, in situations like these, is to acknowledge the failure, apologise for the sentiments hurt and move towards fixing the problem. 

One of our favourite comebacks though was by KFC; after switching to a new supplier of protein, KFC experienced a shortage of chicken in the UK. This lead towards a significant loss as well as backlash from the customers. Their response was an ad campaign that changed the initials of the brand, KFC, to FCK.

As a result, this was not only extremely brave but also a bold move that let people know that the brand had a cheeky personality as well. It reaffirmed a humanistic character possessed by every brand.

Genius Marketing



The importance of branding to businesses is undeniable. Snapchat suffered a loss of 1.2 million users when it redesigned its app. Pepsi’s commercial featuring Kendall Jenner resulted in public outrage. After matching the women’s body to seven specific soap bottles, Dove was forced to apologise. McDonald’s was accused of using grief as a means of selling their food through their advertisements. KFC responded to a chicken shortage by changing the initials of the brand to FCK. The recovery from the crisis took place ad of the year in 2018, and rightly so.

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