Everyone has seen a commercial or advertisement and wondered just
exactly what the ad company was thinking or how no one in the long
chain of command from inception to release noticed anything askew.
Some of those goofs are simply funny, while others are financially
ruining. The following are two of world’s greatest marketing
disasters of all-time.
Flights from Hoover
In 1992, the British division of
Hoover announced that customers buying Hoover products for £100 or
more would result in being awarded two free round-trip airline
tickets. At first, the promotion was good only for trips inside of
Europe. Some customers caught on early and began discreetly
purchasing Hoover products to get plane tickets to more exotic
European locations that generally cost more than £100/pair. Before
Hoover caught on, they expanded the promotion to include tickets to
the United States, which were always certainly over £100 just for
one, let alone two.
Response to the Hoover promotion soared and soon, stores were
fighting to keep Hoover vacuum cleaners in stock. Before the company
realized what had happened, they were elated at the sales figures.
It only hit them at what was occurring when it was time to buy the
airline tickets, and the accountants started pointing out the bottom
line figures. Hoover began refusing to honour the promotion, which
led to the formation of a consumer group called the Hoover Holidays
The Group purchased enough shares of Maytag, Hoover’s corporate
parent, to attend shareholder meetings and pressure the company to
make good on the promotion. When that failed, they took it to the
courts, making headlines throughout Europe and the United States.
The court cases went on for five more years, costing Hoover £50
million dollars and such a devastating drop in their reputation,
Maytag was forced to sell off the company to Italian competitor,
The Beatles are the most popular rock
band in the history of music. The members of the band each went on
to be some of the most respected musicians in the modern era, and
they were all multimillionaires, to boot. So, it is surprising to
hear that there was one album made by the Beatles that actually lost
money and culminated in a PR scandal.
It all started with a photo shoot with acclaimed photographer Robert
Whitaker. He had an idea for a piece of conceptual art involving the
Beatles and, thinking it was humorous, went along without a thought.
Later, George Harrison would say he thought it was a bad idea all
along, but remained silent at the time because John and Paul liked
The photo shoot required the Beatles to sport white butcher’s
smocks. The Fab Four were then draped with fresh and bloody slabs of
meat on their laps, shoulders, and in Ringo’s breast pocket.
Finally, naked and beheaded baby dolls were placed on their
shoulders and the head resting in their laps with the meat. The
Beatles all smiled broadly as the shots were taken.
Later, looking over the shots, it was decided that one would be used
as the cover of the British release of the single for Paperback
Writer. Capitol Records decided to use the same picture on the U.S.
release of the new compilation album Yesterday and Today. After
shipping out advance copies to DJ and radio station execs, Capitol
Records was flooded with outraged responses. Capitol Records
apologized, made new stick-on covers and tried to recall all of the
rest of the albums that had made it out. A combination of the cost
of the recall, the bad press, and the fact that nobody wanted a
compilation album in the first place, resulted in a financial
disaster. However, the few remaining albums that made it out without
getting a new sticker cover went on to be valuable collector’s