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Tamar’s Friday #FailureToLaunch – Our favourite FAILs of 2011

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
23 December 2011

Is it just us, or are marketers a lot more careful around Christmas time? We’ve not seen any really good fails for a week now, apart from a few celebrities making fools of themselves. So, rather than scraping the bottom of the barrel for some weak ones, we thought we’d revisit a few of our favourites from the past few months.

Here’s a recap of our favourite Marketing #FAILs from 2011 in a variety of familiar categories:

Customer Service

Our favourite customer service boo-boo came from Australian clothes store GASP, back in September when they set the cat amongst the superstar pigeons by sending a very frank and slightly insane email to an unhappy customer. You can read the entire post here, but our favourite line was the following:

Chris whom served you is a qualified stylist whom has a sixth sense for fashion, and Chris’s only problem is that he is too good at what he does, and as I am sure you are aware, people whom are talented, generally do not tolerate having their time wasted, which is the reason you were provoked to leave the store.

Influencer Engagement

In a blog post entitled (I’ve censored this a little for the faint-hearted!) “And then the PR guy called me ‘a f***ing b***h’. I can’t even make this sh** up“, blogger The Blogess recounts her recent experience with a particularly clueless PR company. We won’t reprint it all here, though I wanted to reprint my own favourite line from the article, as a reminder to PRs and marketing folk of how bad this can turn…

And then I tweeted to to let them know that one of their VPs just sent me an email referring to me as “a f**king b**ch.” And many, many of my 164,000 followers replied and retweeted in the most clever and hysterically awesome ways imaginable.

Online Branding

We were amused to learn the news that MC Hammer has set up his own search engine – the weirdly named Wiredoo. Hammer “launched” the engine Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco – a conference attended by all of Google’s top brass. Rumours that Sergei Brin ran around the room pointing to his Google shirt screaming “You can’t touch this!” are so-far unconfirmed…

Here’s what Hammer had to say about his work:

“‘It’s not an attempt to reinvent search. You can always make things better.”

Sadly, the site isn’t live yet – though it’s evident from the logo in the holding page below that the branding is being done by a 13 year old… in 1997. Good luck, Hammer!

“Proactive Engagement Marketing” (cough)

The premise of “Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising” is fairly simple – sarcastic jibes at the way some marketeers speak. The sort of things you will have heard 100 times when talking to over-zealous sales people… Here’s a couple of our favourite examples:

Don’t just take our word for it though, go read the rest on the Tumblr…

Viral Video Marketing

According to pretty much everyone who has seen it, Sapient Nitro’s new “viral” video effort – a music video accompanying a “rap” song about how cool it is being an ‘idea engineer’ – is pretty dire. But there’s no point in trying to describe it – you really need to see it for yourself to witness the sheer… amazingness of it all…

Whilst it could be argued that the “buzz” the video has created is worth the production alone, a lot of the buzz is very negative. The main bone of contention amongst the marketing community, as reported by NMA, is the fact that SN are removing all negative comments about the video from YouTube. Not exactly a very smart way to demonstrate how open and creative your company is…!

Customer Relations

Qantas suffered some red-faced embarrassment as a result of a badly-timed Twitter promotion.

Qantas’ Twitter account asked followers to tweet their ideas for a “dream luxury experience” using the #hashtag “QantasLuxury” – a relatively innocent request, but one that didn’t go down too well during a long and drawn-out dispute between Qantas and their workers.

As you can probably imagine, they received quite a few less-than-savoury replies – here’s one example:

Unfortunately for Qantas, they didn’t pick up on the negative sentiment very quickly, with several blindly-optimistic tweets from the account only serving to throw fuel on the fire. Our favourite was:

Personal Marketing

Our favourite story of personal cock-ups concerned an investment banker who went on what he thought was a promising first date, only to be ignored by his potential flame.

In what must be one of the longest and most painful emails to a first-date ever, Mike proceeds to explain to “Lauren” why he thought their date had gone better than it seems. Amongst his disastrous attempts to woo her back are the following gems (read the full letter here):

You played with your hair a lot. A woman playing with her hair is a common sign of flirtation. You can even do a google search on it.

We had lots of eye contact during our date. On a per-minute basis, I’ve never had as much eye contact during a date as I did with you

You’re very busy. It would be very convenient for you to date me because we have the same interests. We already go to classical music performances by ourselves. If we go to classical music performances together, it wouldn’t take any significant additional time on your part.

So, those are some of our favourites – what did we miss? Let us know in the comments!




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