4 Biggest Marketing Blunders of All Time

4 Biggest Marketing Blunders of All Time

In an era when marketing campaigns can be launched within minutes of conceptualization, it’s easy to make mistakes. But marketing blunders have been made throughout history. Before you post your next status update, take a look at these major marketing blunders as a reminder that your campaigns should be strategic and carefully planned.


Popular fitness apparel brand Lululemon first made headlines by shipping yoga pants that left little to the imagination. They soon followed up that blunder with a not-so-smart response to customer complaints about beading in the thigh area of the company’s pricey pants. The company’s founder elicited gaps from women around the world when he suggested that some women’s bodies simply aren’t made to wear the company’s clothing. The founder later apologized and has since stepped down as chairman.


Esurance puts a lot of money into advertising, but in 2010, the company faced a dilemma when its cartoon mascot began moonlighting as an internet icon. Erin Esurance was designed to be a tough-but-sexy secret agent, which seemed to have ignited the interest of fans, who created a racy version of Erin and posted it on numerous websites. Esurance was forced to retire its TV heroine to avoid being associated with the X-rated online version.


Xerox’s problem was a product of having done its job too well. In the early days of office copiers, Xerox was the clear leader, leading its name to become synonymous with the word “copy.” “I’m going to make a Xerox of this” was a commonly heard statement in the latter part of the 20th century, even when an office’s copier was another brand. The company recently discussed the steps it took to protect its name.


One of the biggest marketing blunders of all time came from one of the most successful marketers. Coca-Cola may have endured through several generations of soda drinkers, but the company made a notorious blunder in 1985 when it launched “New Coke.” Despite extensive market research, New Coke was overwhelmingly protested as an unwanted change to a beloved product. However, the change seemed to have reignited interest in Classic Coke. Prior to New Coke’s release, the company’s sales had been slipping but the change seemed to renew the world’s love for the classic version of the soft drink. For several years, New Coke and Classic Coke were sold side by side until the newer version was completely phased out in the early 90's.

By reading about the mistakes of others, we can learn from their mistakes and make our own marketing campaigns more successful. Each of these companies survived their challenges in its own unique way, showing that a strong brand can endure no matter what happens.

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