Terribly Epic Marketing

The Marketing Campaigns That Should Never Have Worked, But Did…

Miss and hit?

Marketing is no easy task. Even the biggest, most funded companies get it wrong. Look at Pepsi and Kendall Jenner. If you haven’t seen that truly spectacular advertising video, check it out below…

If you are interested in what actually happens when you give Pepsi to protestors and police, Vito Gesualdi did a video where he went and tested it. Spoiler alert, someone threw one at the police. Feel free to watch it here.

Sometimes companies set themselves up to fail but come out winning none the less. We reached out to industry experts to find the marketing campaigns they didn’t think would work in a million years, but still managed to somehow turn a profit.

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#1 Marketplace Scavenger Hunt


We did a campaign for a marketplace that had users do a scavenger hunt, in which they had to solve a riddle, the answer to which was a product on the marketplace. On that product page, we embedded the next clue which gave them the next riddle, the answer to which was a different product and so on. The prize for the scavenger hunt was free store credit. Initially, we thought that users wouldn't spend time-solving riddles, but went with it anyway. It turned out that users had so much fun, they spent 30-60 minutes solving the riddles.

Contributor: Yael Tamar | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter

Company: digimark.co.il

#2 Reddit Comments

Reddit is a scary place for marketers. The community is so passionate about everything on the platform being organic, and they are renowned for pouncing on any attempt from businesses to market a product or service to them. 

So when my business partner suggested we use Reddit as another marketing channel, I'll admit I was skeptical at first. However, I was quickly proven wrong. The key to our success was focusing on commenting on relevant threads rather than submitting posts. 

We set up Google Alerts to check for mentions of certain keywords related to our products on Reddit throughout the day, and we'd then find the threads mentioning these keywords and provide a useful answer if one was needed, often linking to a post on our site if the user wanted more info. 

It only took us a few minutes every day to do this, and despite this campaign ending months ago we still get traffic from these comments. The key to our success was to ensure that we weren't spamming the platform, and we made sure of this by only including a link within every 3rd or 4th comment. 

Contributor: Max Robinson

Company: fishtankbank.com

#3 Jeep Voiceover

You are going to turn off the very people you want to hire you.

That is not how it's done in our industry.

You invested HOW much in this?!

I know it's tough for you to do, but stand down.

Friends and colleagues shared these cautions and many others, concerned I was about to make the biggest mistake of my career. Ignoring them was one of the best career moves I ever made.

I'm a professional voiceover talent with with a list of well-known clients and national commercial work for brands like McDonald's, L'Oreal, Michelin, Pampers, Dick's Sporting Goods, Ad Council, Country Crock and so many more. My business, KB Voiceovers, has won multiple nationally-recognized awards for content creation, rapid growth and pushing creative boundaries.

Well-meaning friends and colleagues cautioned me, but like one of the Jeep brand's own slogans Go anywhere. Do anything, I pressed on anyway.

More than a year, thousands of dollars and a lot of heartache later, I was not the voice for Jeep. Not only that, they hired a female voiceover talent for one of Jeep's national TV ads that sounded so much like mine, one of my agents thought it was me.

So did KB4Jeep fail?

  • KB4Jeep won multiple honors including four Telly Awards viewed by thousands¬†of my potential clients.
  • KB4Jeep garnered more than $75,000 in free publicity featured in media¬†outlets read by my target customers.
  • KB4Jeep held almost 25% of Jeep's Twitter voice.
  • KB4Jeep drove my SEO through the roof.
  • KB4Jeep increased my business' bottom line by more than 30%.

No, I haven't voiced for Jeep...yet, but KB4Jeep was most definitely a major win.

Contributor: Kelley Buttrick | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Company: kb4jeep.com | KBVoiceovers.com | Press Kit

#4 Retirement Communities In Florida

When I first launched my blog, I knew getting search traffic would take months or longer, so I needed to find a way to drive some traffic. 

I had zero money, so paid ads weren't an option and I had absolutely no social media following. I was truly starting from scratch. 

I ended up writing an insanely detailed post about retirement communities in Florida, of all topics, and I found exactly one blog that I could drop my link on. 

The post was *buried* on the site, way far away from the home page, and it didn't look like the site had very much traffic. 

I expected there to be no chance that it would do anything. Much to my surprise, I was getting almost 1,000 high-quality users to my site every month just from that one little link.

The traffic was very sticky and I generated quite a few email signups from the early days of my blog, all from that one link that I thought was going nowhere fast.

Moral of the story: Don't underestimate the power of a well-placed link on a relevant site. Relevancy is key, even if it's not hard to get the link placed. 

Contributor: Ryan Shaw 

Company: realestatewitch.com

#5 Makers Fest Musicians

I am the Co-Director of the Grant Park Academy of the Arts, a music instruction school.  We recently began an expansion and it became necessary for us to greatly increase our clientele in a short amount of time.  We looked to put a booth in a festival or two to help meet people and spread the word. 

Here in Atlanta, we have something called a Maker's Fest, in which people that make things get together. We're not makers, we're musicians! But we thought, even though it's a long shot, what if we tried to get into this festival? 

We are currently promoting a summer camp where kids can make their own instruments and we thought, just maybe, we could sell ourselves as makers this way.  We didn't think we'd be taken seriously.  We figured they'd have enough legitimate makers and wouldn't take us wannabes. 

But in fact, we were accepted!  We had a workshop where we taught a lot of kids to make drums, and we passed out tons of info! It was enormously successful. 

Contributor: Adam Cole

Company: www.grantparkarts.com

#6 T-Shirts, Students, $10, And The Employee Justice Legal Team

This is Jesse Harrison, founder, and CEO of the Employee Justice Legal Team, an employment law firm. I’ve participated in and crafted numerous marketing campaigns for my law firm. Some were thought out over the course of a few months, while others were spur of the moment decisions I did not expect to succeed. 

One such surprising moment came when I decided to print a t-shirt with a simple advertisement. The shirt said, ‚ÄúDiscrimination Lawyer: 1-888-694-7132.‚ÄĚ I found a college kid at USC who walked around campus all the time and was visible on the bus and in class, and paid him $10 a day to wear the shirt while he was out. It was a small price and I didn‚Äôt expect much out of it, and I did it more for my own entertainment than to advertise my business. But I was shocked when I received a call inquiring about my services a few days later; the client said he saw the shirt on a student walking around USC, and he wanted to know if I could help him with ongoing harassment at his job.¬†

Soon after, I decided to try and take advantage of the in-person marketing and had 1,000 more shirts printed. I asked 1,000 other people to do the same thing ‚Äď wear the shirt everywhere for a small fee. I got a respectable uptick in clients, but most importantly, I began to get clients of a younger demographic. Some college students called me with inquiries about discrimination in work-study programs and at on-campus jobs, and they were relieved when I told them I could help.¬†

Instead of spending thousands on advertising space and commercials, I was able to spend a small amount of money to net a different base of clients and successfully increase my caseload.

Contributor: Jesse Harrison | CEO

Company: Employee Justice Legal Team

#7 Personalised URL's And Postcards

We recently launched a PURL direct mail campaign, which from a direct response perspective, was successful. What is PURL? It's personalized URL or personalized webpage for each person who receives a postcard from us.

Because of the demographics of our target audience (50 and older), I had my doubts whether having the recipients take an extra step by going online would make much of a difference. We hadn't tested the concept before but we allocated the property technology resources to launch the campaign.

It ended up being a huge success from a direct response perspective. I was stunned at the number of responses we got and how many people on our direct mail list took the postcard, went online to their personalized URL and went through the web form process instead of just having a phone number on our postcard.

What made it a success? Personalizing the URL and tailor each postcard to each specific recipient. I always knew personalizing anything would improve response rates, but I didn't believe with an older demographic, it would be as successful as it ultimately was. 

Contributor: Brannan Glessner | Marketing Manager at Express Homebuyers and hyperlink Express Homebuyers

Company: expresshomebuyers.com

#8 How to Use a Raw Egg to Determine if Your Mattress is Awful

I have been following the sleep space for four years, and our site Tuck.com covers plenty of sleep-related topics. Almost two years ago a startup, Purple mattress, launched a YouTube video showing that the components of their mattress are so forgiving that it wouldn’t crush a raw egg.

That single video has now been viewed over 162 million times and vaulted the company to the top of the online mattress sector. I’m not saying that when I first saw the video that I didn’t like it, but I would have never thought it would send Purple to the heights they have attained. It is truly incredible how much that ad campaign resonated with people. Purple went through a transaction last year, and while they do have a quality product, the truth of the matter is that this one whimsical YouTube video skyrocketed the company in an incredible manner. 

Contributor: Bill Fish 

Company: tuck.com | Facebook

#9 Bud Light: Dilly Dilly!

When Bud Light originally tested their now famous Dilly! Dilly! ad it¬†didn't score well. It's nonsense and doesn't talk about any of the value¬†props of Bud Light, however, when it was shown at the Super Bowl it turned¬†out to be a cultural hit. I thought for sure it would fail because it¬†simply didn't make any sense, even Bud's 1990's Wazzzzup commercial made¬†sense because it was a telephone greeting and the guys were on a phone ‚ÄĒ¬†but Dilly Dilly? Brilliant.¬†

Contributor: Richard Blakeley

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Written by Nathaniel Fried

Co-founder of Fupping. Busy churning out content and building an empire.

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