Miscalculations, errors of omission, lapses in judgment, and death-by-committee are all reasons for marketing mess-ups. In this continuing series, Scott G imagines how some of these deals went down.


“Sales for our carbonated beverages have flattened out. Pun intended.”

“Right. We need something to turn things around.”

“Well, research proves that people like things that are new.”

“Research also shows that people are comfortable with things that are familiar.”

“Yes. So by marketing ‘New Coke,’ we’ll be tapping into both ends of the spectrum of human desire.”

“Excellent idea! Let’s crank out millions of cases of this stuff.”

“Absolutely! It can’t miss.”

And we all remember the rip-roaring success of New Coke. Now, let’s take a look at a potential new problem…


“You know how American moms used to like to drive monster-sized vehicles?”

“Up until high gas prices and their neighbors looked at them like they were al-Qaeda supporters for driving those behemoths.”

“Right. Well, the thing is, we’ve just spent millions designing one.”

“Oh no!”

“Oh yes, and we’ve got to market the hell out of it.”

“What’s this one called?”

“The GL.”

“The GL? For Genuinely Laughable?”

“Probably. Now, first thing we do is what all the other guys do and not call it a truck. It’s…”

(EVERYONE) “A sport utility vehicle.”

“Okay, we need some ideas to advertise this thing. Anybody?”

(Pause, throat-clearing, paper shuffling, etc.)

“Well, what if we over-sell it?”

“Go on…”

“You know, it breaks the crash test sled, it sets the slalom course on fire, it carries a whole house full of furniture plus the Harvard sculling team and their boat, that sort of thing.”

“Perfect! It’s so stupid that people won’t even think it’s advertising.”

“Plus it completely undercuts the positioning we’ve been working on for decades.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’ve always been the company whose ads contained facts about crash testing, crumple zones, handling, technology. So if we run these new ads, we’ll be tossing that positioning out the window.”


“Um, isn’t that bad?”

“Well, for the company, sure. But it means they’ll need more ads than ever.”



“Works for me!”

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