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Top 5 Marketing Disasters of 2011

January 5, 2012

As we work out way well into 2012, it’s always fun to look back at what others have done in 2011 and base our future marketing plans avoiding every mistake that the others have made. Last week we talked about setting yourself up for marketing success in 2012 with the right outlook, plans and strategy. It’s also useful to look back at what marketing strategies others used in 2011 and how miserably they failed.’s Top 10 Brand Disasters of 2011

At the end of 2011, last week, released its top 10 failed marketing disasters of 2011, and we couldn’t agree more. Here are our top 5 brand blunders of 2011 from the list:


• Bank of America – Of course, we will never forget how BofA took a free service, began charging quite a lot of money when you think about it, and fell victim to its own greed. By assuming that there brand held enough weight and that their customers would simply ‘go with the flow,’ BofA walked into a brick wall. According to, ‘in the end BofA backed down, thereby appearing gutless as well as heartless.’

• Blackberry – If you owned a Blackberry in 2011, the odds are that you won’t own one in 2012. The highly trusted brand by journalists, politicians, even the President of the United States, went dark for three entire days, leaving everyone wondering what happened. No emails, no internet, no apps; nothing. The Blackberry brand is based on reliance, accountability, and professionalism, and when they lost all accountability for three entire days they literally took a baseball bat to their own brand.

• Netflix – If we’ve talked about this disaster once, we’ve talked about it a million times. There truly is nothing that compared in 2011 to the embarrassment that was Netflix. First, Netflix raised its prices, going against every ‘convenient’ branding they ever pursued. Not long after the rise in prices, Netflix announced it was ‘splitting off its DVD rental service’ to a different website, different payment options, different everything. Needless to say, customers did not respond positively and Netflix ultimately lost millions of Fans.

• The Murdoch Empire – It’s interesting when a media empire known for unethical and unprofessional tactics actually gets slammed and prosecuted for just that. The Murdoch brand has always been about greatness, a bit of shock and awe, and when it was made public that British reporters were found breaking into voice mails, reading emails, and dropping in on calls, the brand image was ironically reinforced and tarnished at the same time. Everyone always assumed they had undesirable ethics, but when the truth finally came out it was unnerving.

• Facebook Privacy – This one almost takes the cake for the worst brand management in 2011. When the Federal Trade Commission stated that it required Facebook to undergo ‘regular privacy audits’ until 2031, CEO Mark Zuckerberg shrugged his shoulders and told Facebook Fans that privacy standards were high on Facebook and not to worry. Ironically, not long after, hackers got into Zuckerberg’s personal Facebook Page, posting status updates and private photos. To claim that your product and brand is safe for everyone while under investigation by the FTC is one thing, but to say it and in the next moment have that privacy destroyed is quite another.


There were many, many brand disasters of 2011, and we don’t bring these up to point out humor in other’s debacles. However, it is important to take a look at where others have failed to realize where you can succeed. For example, assuming that customers will remain loyal after an extreme hike in fees, such as BofA did in 2011, might not be a good strategy.


Want to get it right in 2012? Contact us.