Some of the best marketing was either purposely, or accidentally made to be ridiculous or just awful—and they made those businesses rich. Marketing doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to strike a chord with people and grab their attention. Of course, this doesn’t always work. Surely, there have been innumerable companies who tried this tactic (or didn’t know what they were doing) and failed, but when it comes out just right, you might hit on that special something that makes people react. Here are a few instances of terrible marketing, which will go do in history as some of the best ideas every conceived.
Growing up with the Eagle Man commercials, most of us thought it was just another really bad, low-budget commercial (we had a lot of those in Chicago). But even now, we still remember the name and joke about it all the time. There was even a sequel ad, where Eagle Woman appears, holding up her eggs and saying, “Look at these low rates!” Thank you, Eagle Insurance.
A more recent brilliant marketing tragedy is the one created by Ling Valentine, whose website makes you feel like you might have a seizure. The front page of Ling’s website would make a web designer cringe, but you can’t argue with one of the highest revenue-generating car companies in the UK.
”Booty Call”, New York Health & Racquet Club
Anyone outside the city probably never heard of it, but for anyone living near Manhattan in 2004, it made quite a splash. An advertising company printed “Booty Call” (a fitness class at the club) on panties worn by very fit volunteers who walked the streets proudly and pantless, spurring an impressive buzz that led passers-by to the club’s website. This is a perfect example of guerilla marketing, wherein companies focus on originality and creativity, with a minimal budget, over conventional marketing channels. The brand manager for New York Health & Racquet Club admitted that the effort was far less expensive than a TV slot, and it was probably more effective.
Taco Bell, April Fools
In 1996, people were outraged when Taco Bell claimed they had bought the Liberty Bell, which admittedly, would be a risky move for the fast food giant. Upset though the public was with this stunt, it proved to be worthwhile. No press is bad press, and the result was a $500k jump in revenue the day the news was released, and another $600k the following day.
Burger King and the Left-Handed Whopper
Following Taco Bell’s lead, Burger King told USA Today that they had re-designed the Whopper to better serve the needs of their left-handed customers, 2 years after the absurd Liberty Bell campaign. Customers were again disappointed when they found that nothing had changed about their beloved Whopper, but the company also enjoyed an increase in sales for its trouble.
Check out the very funny consequences of customer service, gone wrong:
When Customer Service Fails… It’s Actually Pretty Entertaining
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.