From Felix Baumgartner’s Red Bull-sponsored free fall from the space’s edge to Popeye’s phenomenal chicken sandwich, marketing stunts can push companies to the top. But when it comes to commerce, the market can be fickle, especially since it depends on consumer choices.
If you get on the wrong side of the consumers, it can pull your company down. Here are 14 of the most outrageous blunders companies have made that irked consumers.
1. YikYak Ending Its Anonymity
YikYak is a social media app that became popular among college students because of its pseudonymous nature. Users can create and post discussion threads anonymously, similar to how Reddit works, but only for users within a 5-mile radius.
When it came back in 2021 after its hiatus in 2017, it returned without its anonymity. It was a no-go for many Yaks (YikYak users).
2. Photobucket Starts Asking for an Annual Charge
Photobucket is an image and video hosting site in the United States responsible for hosting 10 billion images all over the internet for free. In 2017, the site decided to charge everyone an annual fee of $99 for external linking and $399 for embedded images.
This broke many sites, with some having to delete previous posts and pages. No one was happy with the move, even Photobucket, after it had to downsize from 120 employees to 10.
3. JCPenny Shifting From Affordable to Upscale
JCPenny is a popular department store chain that offers affordable clothing items in over 600 stores worldwide. In 2013, the company tried to move from affordable to upscale offers, revamping their stores and removing coupons. This didn’t work and led to the chain’s demise. In 2020, the company filed for bankruptcy.
4. Gerald Ratner Insulting Ratners Group’s Products
Ratners Group is a popular British jewelry enterprise with Gerald Ratner at the helm of its operations as CEO, a position he inherited from his father in 1984. When he was asked in the interview how his company could sell its products at such low prices, he jokingly said that it was because its products were horrible.
Many customers were furious. He was then to create a new identity for his company to stray away from the issue. They now operate as the Signet Group.
5. Triangle Shirtwaist Company
Triangle Shirtwaist is a clothing company with factories on the top 3 floors of the Asch Building in New York City. It is known for employing Italian and Jewish women and young immigrants. In 1911, the company made a big blunder by locking the stairwell doors in their factories. When a fire broke out, 146 women and children didn’t make it out.
6. Ford Replacing Aging Fox Body Mustang with Front-Wheel Drive
Ford or Ford Motor Company, is a global automobile manufacturer founded by Henry Ford and currently produces and markets automobiles, commercial vehicles, and luxury cars.
In the 80s, the company tried to use a Mazda-based front-wheel drive to replace the aging Fox body Mustang. Customers were enraged and flooded the company with letters expressing their disappointment and anger.
7. Microsoft Requiring Kinect for Xbox One
Microsoft is regarded as an OG in today’s society, where internet connection reigns supreme. It introduced Kinect, a motion-sensing device for the Xbox video console. The problem is not everyone likes Kinect and the sale of the new device is low.
Microsoft’s solution requires Kinect as an add-on for the new Xbox One. It was a horrible mistake that for some time, the company was pushed miles behind Sony, their direct competitor.
8. Giving Sonic Human Teeth
Sonic was one a well-loved game character by avid fans when a live-action video game movie dedicated to the character was announced, everyone was excited. That’s until they released the trailer where Sonic has human teeth.
The CGI teeth look so human and incompatible with Sonic’s look. With people’s negative reactions to the hedgehog design, director Jeff Fowler made the necessary changes, saying the message was loud and clear.
9. Delta Airlines Changing Rules for Perks
Flying perks have always been the rewards that frequent flyers look forward to. To promote their premium flights, Delta Airlines changed their rules to consider the prices of the tickets flyers buy when earning perks and status.
Customers were enraged, with many canceling their Delta Amex cards. The airline admitted to the blunder and introduced a new customer-friendly plan.
10. Women Belong in the Kitchen, Says Burger King
In 2021, Burger King UK wanted to promote gender diversity in restaurants by stating that women are welcome in the kitchen. For International Women’s Day, the company tweeted, “Women belong in the kitchen,” which is a horrible way of stating their cause. After receiving a major backlash, the company had to issue an apology.
11. Twitter Changing to X
Elon Musk completely rebranded Twitter to X after acquiring the social media platform. He highlights how X is an everything app, unlike the previous Twitter, which is much more limited to social media features. No one appreciated the change, and the term “tweet” suddenly doesn’t make sense in this context.
12. Xbox One Requiring Internet Connection to Play Offline
Besides the Kinect fiasco, Microsoft made another blunder of requiring an internet connection to play offline games. While you might need the connection for the initial setup, it’s illogical to require it for offline gaming. The company backtracked, but the damage left gamers dumbfounded and annoyed.
13. Apple Loading U2 Album on All iPhone/iPod Devices
In 2014, Apply loaded the U2 album “Song of Innocence” free on iTunes but without the users’ permission, automatically added to the purchased library. It was supposed to be U2’s take on the largest album release of all time, but many were not thrilled with it.
Some say it disrupted their iTunes library and felt like they were forced to listen to the album.
14. Bud Light Becoming “Woke”
In 2023, Bud Light wanted to make the company’s stand on gender fluidity clear by choosing a trans influencer to promote their beer.
Many conservatives called for a boycott and the company’s customers also pointed out the hypocrisy of the influencer, Holly Golightly, who was very open about her preference to White Angel.
Legal Today, Banned Tomorrow: The Future of These 11 Items
Are you prepared for a future where something currently legal becomes illegal? This intriguing question has been making rounds on the internet, and the top-voted responses are bound to leave you curious.
Check out the detailed answers to the question, “What currently legal thing do you expect to be illegal in the next 20 years?”
MSN Writer, Radical FIRE
Expertise: Entertainment, Travel, Interior Design, and Personal Improvement Niches
Education: Bachelor of Science in Tourism, Major in Development Tourism Management at Ateneo de Naga University
Experience: Marisa Bolivar is a content writer with 10 years of experience in creating blogs and articles across different industries on the web. She has explored many niches in her years working as a content specialist with her favorite zeroing on entertainment, from books to movies and TV shows. Marisa is also a bookworm, who has a fondness for personal improvement and philosophical authors like Paulo Coelho and Mitch Albom.