Thursday, April 11

Whoops I Did It Again

I often say, "marketing is a spectator sport."  We can learn by watching each other in the marketplace ... in terms of what works and what doesn't work with consumers.

Today I've got two examples where we can learn from blockbuster brands that generally do amazing marketing, proving that marketing is full of ups and downs and it's nearly impossible to always get it right 100% of the time.  Two examples where the court of social opinion weighed in quickly on the effectiveness of these brands' communications.  We should know by now that consumers are going to let us know what you think of our marketing behavior!

Tiger Woods and Nike.  "Winning Takes Care of Everything.."  Not completely in social media and around the water cooler which has largely denounced this ad as being insensitive, shall we say, to Tiger's history.  Is this actually a core consumer insight or a big "whoops?"

Victoria Secret.  Long been seen as the brand that defines "sexy," and long been seen as the brand that pushes boundaries.  Did "Bright Young Things" push too far?  Seems as though some consumers certainly seem to think so.  Is it engaging and enticing or just another "whoops I did it again?"

The consuming public, thanks to social media, is very quick to judge and now the mainstream press including broadcast outlets is quick to report.  The problem is that understanding where to take your brand is a really thin line and it's completely invisible, so as marketers you have to constantly guess what's appropriate and edgey, versus what's tacky and inappropriate.  And it changes daily, all day long.

But trust me, you do know the minute you get it wrong.  Snap!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
- President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
- Author, The Experience Effect series
- Professor, NYU
- Contributor, Entrepreneur 


  1. Whoops I did it again reminds me to think of 'Test Tack' Commercial ad of Fiat 500e. I like the previous commercial ad of Fiat - Topless due to its classic, speechless caption of Fiat Albarth Cario features. Even though Fiat tries to position Fiat 500e in the sexy car category, the make-out session, to me, is too much and seriously inappropriate. I think I'm not alone. The campaign might create buzz but not entice audience enough to buy it. Is it turn you on?seriously!

    Arucha P.

  2. Understanding your target audience seems like a given when it comes to marketing, but situations like this seem to happen regularly and serve as a reminder of the importance of being sensitive to your consumers. Remember that Kenneth Cole blunder w. Twitter? In class last Saturday it was mentioned that snark is a key part of Kenneth Cole's marketing. Sometimes it's a fine line between clever and insensitive and he crossed it a few years ago when he used the situation in Egypt to promote his Spring Collection ( To me it was a valuable lesson in careful marketing and a great look at the gravity of social media mistakes. The fake twitter accounts in response to this is proof of just how damaging a social media gaffe can be.

  3. Speaking of repeat mistakes, it looks like American Apparel did it again:
    While the company really wants to create a provocative brand, people also have a hard time separating the brand from the reputation of the company CEO (who has been involved in several sexual harassment lawsuits). Ads like this don't help the situation, as the comments on the Refinery 29 post indicate.