People continually underestimate the importance of online marketing. All too often, decision makers don't understand why thoughtful advertising is important until a crisis looms. Over the past five years, there have been some notable online marketing disasters that highlight just how important this field is for companies of all sizes. |
Greenpeace alleged that Nestle was responsible for deforestation and loss of animal habitats in Indonesia because of the food company's reliance on palm oil. Greenpeace laid out their case against Nestle in a series of YouTube videos, which caused a vast public outcry on Nestle's Facebook page. Nestle did release a statement saying that they had terminated their relationship with the palm oil supplier, but it was too little, too late. If Nestle had a more robust, rapid online action plan in place, the company might have been able to combat the negative press.
2011- Ocean Marketing
The words "Ocean Marketing" still send a shiver down the spines of advertisers everywhere. This scandal is an example of how just one employee can do irreparable damage to a brand's online reputation. Paul Christoforo, an employee of Ocean Marketing, was the PR lead for the Avenger PlayStation 3 controller. When a customer sent Paul an email inquiring about when his controller would ship, Christoforo lost his cool and began treating the customer in an extremely unprofessional manner. When the unhappy customer CC'd notable gaming industry outlets like Kotaku and Penny Arcade on the conversation with Christoforo, Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik stepped in and told Christoforo he was no longer welcome at any future PAX gaming conventions. The emails between the customer, Christoforo, and Krahulik quickly went viral, inspiring parody videos and a Twitter firestorm.
2012- Celeb Boutique
In the aftermath of the tragic shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, CO, the word "Aurora" started trending on Twitter. Unfortunately, the Brits running the Twitter account for Celeb Boutique didn't understand why "Aurora" was trending. The company tweeted, "Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress;)." This stupid mistake caused a furor that damaged the integrity of the brand.
Supermarket chain Tesco was at the center of a scandal where horsemeat was found in a variety of beefy prepared foods sold at the chain. Tesco didn't do themselves any favors when they sent out a foolish tweet during the height of the outrage: "It's sleepy time so we're off to hit the hay!" The link between hay and horses was tenuous, but tensions were so high regarding the contaminated food that the tweet went viral and greatly damaged consumer confidence in the Tesco brand.
2014- Wait and see...
It's a bit early in the year to decide what company has made the biggest online marketing blunder of 2014. Wal-Mart's fox meat contamination scandal has made some waves, as has the Chicago Cubs' mascot debacle. The lesson here is simple: If you don't want your company to be at the center of an online advertising disaster, you need to have a savvy marketing team in place.
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