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Turning Marketing Catastrophes into Opportunities: Overview

Marketing and Advertising can be very tricky. If things aren’t done correctly – or an uncontrollable circumstance arises – many types of errors can occur.

Some of these errors have to do with the technological issues, for example, a website crash or a malfunctioning QR Code.

Others have to do with product issues, for example, a stain removing detergent leaves a stain, or a diet pill causes one to gain weight.

The third kind, and arguably the worst, has to do with sending out the wrong message, for example, having something perceived incorrectly or having a sponsor do something offensive in his or her personal life.

Despite all of these possible errors, the best Marketers and Advertisers have ways to turn any type of catastrophe into an opportunity.

Think about the Domino’s Pizza incident in 2009: Domino’s Pizza had a situation in which an employee posted a video of himself and other workers on YouTube, putting unsanitary things on sandwiches they were preparing. More than a million people viewed the video. In response to the incident, Dominos created a Twitter page and Dominos USA President posted an apology video on Youtube. As a reaction to the Youtube incident (and negative feedback from consumers about the pizza being too bland), the company created the “Pizza Turnaround” campaign. They created a website for the campaign and on the site posted videos of deliveries of new pizza to consumers who had previously complained. Those consumers were happy with the new recipe. Dominos now prides itself for actually listening to suggestions and are openly very willing to change their business practices (i.e. how they make their pizza) accordingly.

Also, remember the Aflac incident last March: Gilbert Gottfried, voice of the popular Aflac duck, made insensitive comments on twitter about the earthquake in Japan. Not only was this offensive in general, but it was a big deal for Aflac because 75% of their business comes from Japan. After Gottfried was dismissed, Aflac temporarily aired an old 2005 commercial depicting the duck in a silent film. At the end of the silent film commercial, a message came up encouraging people to go to “Aflac Duck” on Facebook for a chance to be the new voice of the duck. With help from, consumers were able to submit online auditions via the website When Dan McKeague of Hugo, MN was selected for the position in late April, Aflac was given an opportunity to emphasize his good values as a loving father of three – a far cry from the insensitive attitude of Gottfried.

There are many other examples of marketing and advertising experts turning catastrophes into opportunities, and this week we will be discussing them in detail…



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