The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

More Brand Disasters of 2010
Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc
Robert Passikoff
This week Advertising Age issued their list of the 10 branding and marketing fiascos of the year. They listed the Jay Leno move to 10PM (“tanked with viewers, advertisers, and network affiliates.”); the Gap’s lemon of a new logo layout (“looked like something puked up from a late-‘90’s Dallas office park.”); and Microsoft’s first entry into the phone category (“a physically unattractive communication, er, thingie with no clear positioning”). Ad Age picked only 10, so every disaster couldn’t be listed. The Tiger Woods human-brand debacle wasn’t included, for example. But they had others and they were pretty funny. Not, of course, for the companies and brands that found their follies revisited, but very funny for the rest of us.

Brand Keys also pokes fun at brands that participate in brand bungles and marketing misdemeanors all year round, in our blog The Keyhole ( We are unfailing in our belief that brands should be the beneficiaries of their branding and marketing efforts, and see positive consumer behavior in the marketplace: Sales; Profitability – things like that. Happily, we have metrics that provide a consumer’s eye view of the categories in which brands compete and because those metrics are emotionally-based they are predictive of what will happen, good or bad.

So when it came to this year’s brand and marketing disasters, we turned to the balance sheet and offer these brand disasters as additions to the 2010 list:

1. BP: The brand went from 1st to 7th (of 7) on our Loyalty Index when the well exploded. UK’s YouGov’s polls indicated no negative affects to the brand. The financials suggest the brand has lost all of its value in one year.

2. Toyota: The recalls – and attendant negative PR re: allegations that top execs knew, but failed to do anything – and liability suits resulted in a loss of nearly a quarter of the brand’s value.

3. Johnson & Johnson: Recalls can kill a brand, especially when you’re talking about medicine for infants and children, having to shut down plants, and stop distribution of your biggest names. Harder to swallow is a brand hit of nearly 30%.

4. Blackberry: Once the darling of businesspeople and Wall Street, the brand has lost out to the iPhone, Android-based phones, and Samsung’s and LG’s (very) smart phones. Bottom line: brand value down nearly a third.

The best thing about these lists? It’s the end of the year, and brands can put it all behind them – but only if they can get out in front of consumer expectations. Here’s wishing all a head start for the New Year!

Subjects: Advertising, Consumers, Awards

23 December 2010 17:17

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