Marketing ‘Oops’ Moments: KFC, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Hoover
The recent KFC grilled-chicken drama will probably go down in history as one of the biggest “oops” moments in advertising.
In case you missed it, KFC enlisted the help of Oprah Winfrey in the launch of its new grilled chicken option. On May 4, the Oprah show included a promise of two free pieces of grilled chicken, two sides and a biscuit to anyone who downloaded a coupon within a two-day period. Disaster struck when KFC realized it was unable to actually deliver on the promise and had to rescind the offer.
Since then, KFC has faced a barrage of negative press and consumer reviews—and that inspired Advertising Age to take a look back at some of the other all-time blunders made by advertisers. Their list includes:
New Coke: The Atlanta-based soda giant attempted to release a new version of its original formulation in 1985 and, despite the marketing blitz that accompanied the release, the super-sweet New Coke was a giant failure. Less than three months after rolling out the new product, Coca-Cola pulled it from the shelves.
Kraft’s Ready to Roll: Contests can be rife with issues—especially when the company hosting the contest accidentally prints too many winning game pieces in packages of its products. About 10,000 people were anxious to claim the grand prize of a shiny new Dodge Caravan during this 1989 debacle for Kraft, and the company spent somewhere between $3 million and $4 million to appease the game players with cash prizes.
Hoover: In the U.K., Hoover offered a "buy a vacuum, get two free airline tickets" promotion. Apparently, the manufacturer failed to realize it was offering travelers the deal of a lifetime by saying the vacuum only needed to cost 100 pounds to qualify for the promotion. Expecting about 50,000 buyers, Hoover was overwhelmed by more than 200,000 purchases—and the amount it had to shell out to cover the expense of the flights far exceeded the revenue generated from vacuum sales. Oh, and it also forced the manufacturing plant to move to a seven-day work week to keep up with the demand for its cheapest vacuum, which cost just more than 100 pounds.
For more marketing gaffes, click here.
Advertising Age: Ad Age's Annals Of Marketing Disasters