Marketing Horrors

30 October 2014
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Yes yes, it’s Hallowe’en – another fine opportunity for the retailers to empty our wallets in pursuit of our children’s (and ours?) half term entertainment. And another opportunity for most of us to never make the connection with what Hallowe’en is really all about.


I’m sure there are still a few of us who associate October 31st with the liturgical calendar’s remembrance of the dead – all those saints (hallows), martyrs and the faithful departed. And although the traditional focus of “All Hallows Eve” revolves around the theme of using humour and ridicule to confront the power of death, recent commercialisation and secularisation have taken over this festival.

So, here we are being bombarded with fright nights, and spooky video clips on social media, party paraphernalia and an unhealthy amount of orange food colouring.

Horror makes an awful lot of money.

But it got me thinking about some of my own personal marketing horrors over the years. Like the launch ( in a previous incarnation) of our New york office in September 2001. A cleverly designed A5 foam board aeroplane (or airplane!) in appropriate branded livery was sent as a direct mail to all our potential new customers in New York’s financial services district with a message along the lines of ‘we’ve flown across to deliver our own great service to the US’ etc etc etc.

Yep. You’ve guessed it: this mailing was sent on September 10th 2001. Of course we could never have known just how poor that timing would turn out to be. Needless to say, not quite the impact we’d hoped for.

And we’ve all got examples of the massive flashing neon-lit typo that only jumps out at you once that beautiful new piece of collateral hits the client’s desk – it wasn’t there before was it? Was it?

And what about that email campaign that inadvertently was sent to all and sundry and not to the targeted market segment?

My best advice is not to let panic overcome you. Mistakes happen to everyone. Sometimes.
The important thing is to take responsibility for your error. Then decide a course of action – doing nothing is rarely the right move. In fact, handling the ‘horror’ well can prove to be a very valuable step towards successful relationships with customers.

And if you can eek a little humour out of the situation, then do it. Laughter is a great antidote to horror!

So, what’s your biggest marketing horror?


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