The history of business includes some examples of brilliant marketing ploys . . . as well as some cases of colossal marketing blunders.




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Africans were horrified by an American baby food company’s product packaging.


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Undesirable pale salmon is successfully sold with the slogan “Guaranteed not to turn pink in the can.”


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Lucky Strike cigarettes changed from a green package to a white one in the 1940s to aid the war effort.


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The New Coke fiasco was actually a clever marketing ploy.*


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Harley-Davidson’s ‘Fat Boy‘ motorcycle was designed to represent the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan.


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Atari buried millions of unsold E.T. game cartridges in a New Mexico desert landfill.


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In the 1940s, a textile firm used sexy double entendre ads to sell Springmaid sheets.


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Burma-Shave once promised to send a contest winner to Mars as part of a promotional campaign.


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Naugahyde is made from the skins of naugas, an odd creature native to Sumatra.


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M&Ms could have been the candy featured in the film E.T., but they turned down the opportunity.


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The three most valuable brand names on earth are Marlboro, Coca Cola, and Budweiser.


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A humorous mail-order scam of the 1930s advertised a surefire and deadly potato bug killer for only $1.50.


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Sarajevo and Pyongyang are the only two world capitals without McDonald’s restaurants.


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Charles Shaw wine is being sold cheaply because airlines can no longer use corkscrews and have dumped their stocks of wine.


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Fast food chain Burger King is behind a ‘subservient chicken‘ Internet promotion.*


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Retailers mistakenly scanned the wrong side of a CD bearing bar code-themed cover art, resulting in lower prices for customers.


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Clocks in advertisements display a time of 10:10 in commemoration of the time of John F. Kennedy’s death.


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Students in Japan consider Kit Kat chocolate bars to bring them luck during exams.*


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Shoe company markets the “Incubus,” a product named for a demon that violates women in their sleep.


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McDonald’s buys its meat from All-Beef, which allows it to claim it uses all beef in its burgers.


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Lego sets in the 1970s were accompanied with a letter to parents encouraging gender equality.

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