The Screwups: 9 experiential campaigns that brutally misfired


While experiential techniques in marketing have proven to be extremely successful in capturing consumer interest, not all experiential campaigns always go as planned. Sometimes the blueprint may be reviewed multiple times but its only when the activity is physically executed that brands realize the apparent misfires. EE lists out some epic experiential disasters across the globe-

Snapple Popsicle #Fail

Snapple decided to promote its frozen snacks with the help of a 25-feet tall popsicle weighing 17.5 tons at the center of New York City’s Union Square on June 21, 2005 in summer when the temperature was above 80 degrees. The idea was to create the World’s Largest Popsicle but the 25 feet frozen Kiwi-Strawberry flavored Snapple began to melt and led to a sticky fruity flow, making tourists and firefighters go into a tizzy.

Pontiac’s Oprah Giveaway

Each member from Oprah’s studio audience was gifted Pontiac G6 sedan but it gave more credit to her than the brand, General Motors who had donated 276 cars for the show. As a matter of fact, the company had to shell out around $8 million.

Cartoon Network Debacle

Cartoon Network had placed blinking electronic devices in street corners and bridges in 10 cities to campaign for the cartoon `Aqua Teen Hunger Force’ on January 31, 2007. A resident suspected it to be explosives and called the cops who came along with bomb squads and shut down Boston area bridges. Cartoon Network’s head Jim Samples lost his job and its parent company Turner Broadcasting had to pay $2 million as compensation for Bostons’ emergency response.

Casa Sanchez Tattoos

Sanchez family of `Taqueria’ fame in California offered free lunch for lifetime for those who got a tattoo of its logo and this attracted the attention of many customers. It had to shell out $5.8 million for fifty years for lunch to be provided at $8 every day and this was not feasible for the owner. So they had to cut down the number of people to 50 based on an interview with questions, on their hunger pangs.

Mission Impossible Panic

Paramount pictures came up with a marketing strategy for Mission Impossible III, through wiring 4500 randomly selected newspaper racks in Los Angeles, with the help of a digital music device to play the Mission Impossible Soundtrack when the rack got opened. Seeing the loose wires, pedestrians went awry and informed the police and one of the musical racks was even blown up due to fear of it being a bomb.

Falling Man Disturbs

In early 2012, AMC network used New York City as its canvas to promote `Mad Men’s Fifth Season Premiere through its billboards of the show with the iconic fall of a man which was plastered on buildings and subways in the city. Many residents expressed their anguish when they saw the billboards after experiencing the tragedy of 9/11.

Heart Attack in Reality

A restaurant in Las Vegas named `Heart Attack Grill’ offers surgical gowns for diners when they chose food items from the menu named `Bypass burgers, Flatliner fries, Buttermilk shakes to name a few. One of the diners had a heart attack while devouring `Triple bypass burger’ as others watched thinking it was an act as the local paramedics visited the venue. The owner had to defend the restaurant against claims that it was stage managed to get publicity.

Bavaria NV's Ignorance

At a Netherlands vs. Denmark soccer match in the 2010 World Cup, Dutch brewery Bavaria NV had thirty women wear its branded orange mini-skirts under their regular clothes, and strip down before half-time. Anheuser-Busch had paid a good amount of money to be the official beer of the match with exclusive advertising rights. Women who represented Bavaria NV’s stunt had to go to jail briefly and undergo trial for ambush marketing.

Super Mario Groper

A man from New Jersey named Damon Torres was dressed up as Super Mario in New York’s Times Square was found guilty of groping a woman. The woman reported the incident and Torres was immediately arrested and while being frisked by the police was found to have marijuana in his possession. The toxic report shows that he had earlier consumed mushrooms prior to his arrest.

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