Number Six: “Abstain for the Game” camp-pain!
My favourite Marketing campaign bust came about in the year of 2011 in a little wee country called New Zealand. I remember it quite fondly. I was at University at the time and remember my Professor asking our class “right guys, what went wrong here?”
The story begins with the major telecommunication company Telecom (Australia’s Telstra) being the major sponsor of the 2011 Rugby World Cup hosted in New Zealand. As you all know, New Zealand is a little bit cray-cray about rugby. So the Marketing team had a gold mine in their hand; a true chance to showcase their brand to NZ and the world. This did not happen.
A brief description:
The campaign went like this; kiwis were advised to not have “relations” with anyone during the 7 week Rugby world cup. This was advertised with adverts of old women standing in full flannel PJs with a field of sheep. Why sheep you ask? Well, if you have been living under a rock, the world seems to have a ‘general stand-up routine’ connecting sheep with New Zealanders (Google that one). Can you imagine the uproar from New Zealanders? Their iconic sport had been tampered with and compared to a rehearsed joke about New Zealanders from around the world. Not only that but how is not having sex going to help and support the All Blacks? Completely off scope marketing people!
In a leaked email from The New Zealand Morning Herald, Telecoms Chief Exec Alan Gourdie, said: “It’s been a torrid 24 hours in the glare of public spotlight, as well as in that of our own team’s views and opinions. Nothing like a full and frank exchange of views! […] But even before the full campaign was properly kicked off, it’s pretty obvious to all that we misjudged public opinion. So you may or may not be surprised to hear that following the strong reaction yesterday, we won’t be proceeding with the ‘Abstain’ campaign”.
So, as a result, the campaign was pulled only 24 hours after release. The Marketing team had two weeks to come up with a multi-million marketing campaign very quickly. Lesson to be learnt here is pretty simple: know your audience.