The Week of Brand Fails

Keeping your brand alive and well in what some might call today’s “chaotic and always-on climate” is no small endeavor. From personal brands to corporate enterprises, the ability to navigate the world seems to be challenging to the point where mistakes are being made on a regular basis.

In the past week alone, there have been a multitude of brand fails that feel familiar and avoidable:

Brand Fail #1Papa John’s founder John Schnatter uses a racial slur at a sensitivity training session and ultimately resigns from the company he built. This will certainly affect his personal brand, but also caused the company’s stock to dip after the news broke. We usually like to focus on positive lessons learned from a brand crisis but this one left us scratching our heads. Why does this keep happening?

Brand Fail #2Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal is recalled due to a salmonella outbreak that has infected 100 people in 33 states and the CDC actually tweeted that people should not eat it. This one probably wouldn’t make our list except for the fact that the CDC explicitly told the public to not eat the product. While the CDC involvement isn’t necessarily unusual for a recall of this nature, it almost always feels like a death sentence for the brand involved.

Brand Fail #3McDonald’s is “forced remove salad options from 3,000 locations across the Midwest after customers reported experiencing gastrointestinal illnesses.” This brand fail is similar to the Kellogg’s Honey Smacks recall, but it differs in a major way—they haven’t pinpointed the cause of the outbreak yet. All they know is that it has something to do with the ingredients in their salads. The open-ended nature of the investigation creates an air of uncertainty, which will likely impact McDonald’s sales.

Brand Fail # 4Amazon Prime Day experienced technical problems during their annual “Super Bowl” event. We wouldn’t be doing our brand fail list justice if we didn’t mention the major hiccup that left Amazon customers frustrated with the brand this week. Will this ruin the brand? No. Does it chip away at the confidence people have in the global e-retailer? Maybe. The big takeaway from this one is that even the biggest alpha brands can, and will, make mistakes.

The funny-not-funny thing about all of these recent examples is that we’ve seen them all before, and it makes one wonder why the same issues keep repeating themselves. Why are companies not learning from the past? Don’t get us wrong—we’re not blind to the fact that brand calamities happen, even with failsafes in place. But these brand flops seem to be avoidable at the most basic level.

What do you think? Are these brand fails avoidable? Do you feel there were appropriate actions taken to rectify the issues? Give us your opinion!

  • SOURCE: Chief Executive / CBS News / Newsweek / The Ringer
  • BRANDS: Papa Johns / Kellogg’s Honey Smacks / McDonald’s / Amazon
  • WHY YOU WILL LOVE IT: Because sometimes you find comfort in the misery of others, you heartless monster!

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