Marketing Overdose - Learnings from Mistakes by Great Brands

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2923 , Published on 10 April 2013

Marketing - the word itself sends a pulsation in the nerves of all the marketing managers and the aspiring ones and the pulsation is so strong that they over do it. Every new day the academic and corporate world are coming out with a new kind of marketing: Mobile marketing, Facebook marketing, Internet marketing may be some of them, but the list is very long, The dictionary of marketing is getting enriched by more than hundred words every day.

The problem is not with the techniques or types but with the forceful implementation. Even in any of the marketing forum you will find plethora of articles about different ways of marketing employed by a company and there is a large chance that this article will also end up in a forum which might have another 100 ways of how to do marketing. The purpose of this article is to see the marketing mistakes made by some of the big companies especially because of marketing overdose. Also, at the end of each mistake we will analyze the ways to minimize these mistakes.

Brand Exteeeension

Kids tend to pump so much air in their balloon in the anticipation of having the biggest balloon; they end up in destroying the balloon completely. Well if Kids can do that, then why not P&G. The classic case is of P&G’s Crest Toothpaste. At a time in U.S when Crest was having 50% of market share then they thought why not to increase the variety and capture more market. They increased the variants first to 18 then to 32 then to 40 and at a time there were 52 variants of Crest available in the market. On the other hand their nearest competitor Colgate has just launched one more variety called as Colgate Total. The result was- market share of crest dropped from 50% to 25% and Colgate became the leader. Well this is not something new for the P&G; Head & Shoulders another world class brand from P&G had 31 variants. The simple question which should arise in the minds of a marketing manager should be “Do consumers really need that much variety?” Too many choices confuse customers (Paradox of Choices) and that is the time when customer switches to another brand. Sony, HUL and lots of other giants were been the victim of this brand extension problem. On these front companies should take a lesson from Apple where they launch only one product and say that this is their best product. Less confused the customer is happier the brand will be.

Buzzzzzzzz Marketing

In 1998 when Sony released Godzilla, they believed it to be a huge blockbuster hit and then Sony started its promotion through TV shows, promo videos featuring Sean Combs. Sony spent nearly $50 million on the promotional activity. The skyscraper of Godzilla was erected around the whole U.S. This was not the end of the story Sony also focussed on the other P (Place) of marketing and made sure that the movie should be screened in most of the theatre. On the day of its launch, one in every five cinema halls was playing Godzilla which was itself a new record. While Sony focussed on Promotion and Distribution, it made a basic fault of assuming the Product (Godzilla the movie) was perfect. Even before the release, the movie was getting pretty bad reviews. Godzilla was actually a remake of GOJIRA, Japanese 1954 movie and the reviews claimed it to be a very poor remake. Instead of taking all the reviews into account and improve the product. Sony kept on creating hype by false media publicity. Finally after the release, the movie proved to be a financial disaster for Sony. The lesson here for the Sony is that too much hype created by Sony actually worked against it. As Tom Peters puts up in a very nice way ‘Leverage is good, but too much leverage is bad’ and this is what actually happened here.

Con Coupon

On April 6th KFC China announced its “one-second act”, which was a sales promotion campaign. This coupon was made available by which says that consumers can have 50% discount on their family bucket meal. The coupons were provided at 10a.m, 2p.m and 4p.m to the netizens. Nobody understood the logic behind such kind of campaign. KFC was not a very weak brand in China. Anyhow the result was very tragic for KFC, more than millions of coupons were downloaded and people rushed to the nearest KFC stores. Number of consumers in the stores has outweighed the supply by far. As a consequence of this fiasco billions of Chinese were pissed off and to neutralize things the KFC‘s senior management made an official apology. Surprisingly, a mistake of almost same nature was already committed by KFC less than a year ago in U.S. KFC in U.S. allowed the netizens to download a coupon for free two piece chicken meals and to make the things worse they made Oprah to endorse their product. Well everyone can guess the fate of such a promotion. This was a typical case where company went for a sales promotion without any market research. KFC undermined its brand value in both the cases which proved to be fatal for them and instead of uplifting its image, downgraded the image of the company. Other lesson which should be learnt by KFC is that if a strategy fails there is a huge chance of it of failing again.

Above are some of the examples where the over marketing injured the company. The list is very long and includes some of the very famous names like Nike, Pepsi, and Harley Davidson e.t.c. Some of the reasons for such kinds of debacle have already mentioned. Everyone knows that Marketing is a need of any company and it is very hard to point out the situations when it needs to stop and when to accelerate. One of the best solutions is to first study the market and to never make any decision which could bring company in the deep financial troubles without having a solid escape plan. The other thing which a company should take care of is of not engaging in a marketing campaign just because others are doing.

Facebook Marketing is the latest fashion in the marketing world. Companies hire graduates and assign them their first task of increasing the number of like on their Facebook page. The question which I would love to ask is what after that? Do the number of likes has anything to do with the sales? Obviously No, because this kind of method doesn’t increase the brand engagement as people hardly visits the page after liking it. Most of the people only visit the page to write complaint. One example of this is the face book page of future group. ( So what actually was designed for company benefit actually turned against the company because those who visit the homepage can only see bad review about the company.

Before winding up let us see the last and the most bizarre marketing blunder from the world’s biggest brand Coca Cola. Coke was always the leader in the cold drink industry but in 1985 the company made a potentially disastrous decision of introducing New Coke to challenge its competitors. The New Coke was a sweeter version which was introduced in the market after a thorough research. Just after few days of the launch a large chunk of people in U.S. boycotted the product which marked the return of the original Coke. The company lost about millions of dollar and that too for nothing because again the coke was same the consumers were the same the only thing changes is the loss figure in the company’s balance sheet. The reason for this mishap was inadequate market research, as during the test phase the company only took the feedback of the new version of drink without letting them know that it was Coke. So the research was not conducted into the public perception of the original brand. And after 100 years of presence in the market Coca Cola should have understood its brand value.

The simple rule says “Don’t do marketing because you can, but do it only if it is justified”; no matter whatever step one might take there is always a chance for failure. If Coke with a world class research team can make such kind of mistake then anybody can. The point which I would like to bring to everyone’s attention is that marketing as like any effective medicine will only be effective when is taken as per the requirement and any overdose of marketing will have the same result on the company which a medicine has on its payment. So, “karo magar dhyaan se”.

This article has been authored by Bir Bahadur Singh from IIM Raipur.


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