The biggest brand fails of 2019
Website glitches, easy-to-mock names and tone-deaf advertising dominated the headlines of 2019, even as some marketers tried to fly too close to the sun (ahem, WeWork.) Here are some of the biggest mistakes marketers made in this year.
Marriott says hello to Bonvoy
In early 2019, Marriott rolled out a revamped loyalty program under an unusual name. “Bonvoy” was fashioned from the idea of good travel, executives said, but consumers weren’t keen. The name was ridiculed so much that by Advertising Week in September, brand executives were still defending it. Whoopsvoy.
Rent the runway—oh wait, you can’t
When popular clothing rental service Rent the Runway installed a new software system for its inventory, it didn’t count on the glitches that would come with the new platform. Unfortunately, the system was so problem-plagued—orders didn’t show up or were delayed—that the company had to shell out refunds and extra cash to satisfy disgruntled customers.
Peloton’s holiday horror story
It was the ad watched round the world—and widely criticized. While experts debated whether the mockery around Peloton’s holiday ad, which chronicles a thin woman’s journey to being just as thin, was good or bad for brand sales, no one could refute that it got buzz. Only time will tell if that buzz will lead to long-term brand health.
Boeing’s brand crisis
After the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max planes led to nearly 350 fatalities, Boeing grounded its 737 Max models, but faced consumer uncertainty over the safety of its product. That uncertainty turned to anger when reports revealed that executives may have received warnings over safety issues before the crashes.
Airbnb came under fire recently when an investigative report revealed a series of scammers trying to cheat customers of the home-sharing platform. The company also faced heat when house parties at some of its rentals turned violent and resulted in deaths. As a result, Airbnb revised some of its policies, but the brand damage was already done.
WeWork don't work
Once a pioneer of the hot trend of co-working spaces, WeWork became a cautionary tale of the dangers of trying to grow too quickly. The company canceled a much-publicized IPO, bid goodbye to its founder and CEO and thousands of employees, as its valuation sank. Maurice Levy, its new interim chief marketing and communications officer, has a lot of work to do
Tesla’s Cybertruck dreams get shattered
Gasps of awe turned to disbelief when Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s Cybertruck and the vehicle’s supposedly shatter-proof windows smashed into smithereens. However, according to Musk, who reportedly was heard muttering “Oh my fucking God” under his breath, the mishap is solidly in the rearview.
The unhealthy Juul
E-cigarette startup Juul spent the year battling claims that its products were harmful to users, many of whom were marketed to as teenagers. States are suing the brand even as it is under investigation by federal regulators.
Kim’s Kimono unraveling
Kim Kardashian West’s shapewear line had all of the makings of success—a trendy, in-demand product with a high-profile celebrity attached to it. Then she named it “Kimono” and faced outrage over cultural appropriation. Within weeks, she’d renamed the brand Skims. S’okay.
Baby Yoda is late to the Christmas tree
Disney claims that the delays in merchandise of the trendy “Baby Yoda,” from Disney Plus’ The Mandalorian, were part of a concerted effort to avoid spoilers. However, the omission of the big-eyed fan favorite from holiday shopping lists feels like a mistake.