4 Biggest Corporate Branding Disasters

2006 was not a banner year for many companies. In fact, quite a few of them really, really screwed up. Who embarrassed themselves the most? From CNN Money:

“Again we’ve had no shortage of big branding mistakes last year and even early this year,” said Kelly O’Keefe, an independent branding consultant and CEO of O’Keefe Brands.

O’Keefe has published an annual branding “Hall of Shame” for five consecutive years.

The full list isn’t out yet, but O’Keefe has teased us with the first 4. We list and evaluate, inside.

• Wal-Mart:
“Today’s Wal-Mart looks more like a Kmart. It’s lost those values that made it great. Wal-Mart needs to reconnect with itself rather than trying to compete with Target (Charts) or somebody else.”

The article fixates on Walmart firing their ad agency and their sad, sad attempts to be Target, but doesn’t mention the Nazi T-shirts, the random racist guy, the hentai porn, hiring Edelman PR, not paying their employees, the spying on reporters, or “Walmarting Across America.” Odd.

• JetBlue: Whoooooops. According to O’Keefe, CEO David “Mortified” Neeleman didn’t apologize soon enough. “He took over 24 hours to make an apology,” O’Keefe said. “He should’ve acted much faster to say he regretted what happened and that JetBlue would make amends.”

We feel compelled to mention that he did apologize, and we still don’t get very many complaints about JetBlue. Are you people not complaining? Feel free to send them in. We’re all ears.

•Turner Broadcasting System: TBS’s attempt to trick Boston into blowing itself up was not well received in this particular article. Consumerist thinks that Boston’s bomb squad suffered the bigger reputation hit. Yes, it was stupid to put lite-brite boards on bridges. Should the bomb squad be able to tell the difference between toys and bombs? Yes? Dare we say it?

We nominate Dr. Pepper looting Paul Revere’s grave as the dumber Boston-area gorilla marketing faux pas.

• Home Depot: Apparently, women don’t like Hope Depot. “Lowe’s is far more successful in that regard,” said O’Keefe. Maybe it’s that women don’t like standing in line for 190 million years while they wait for staff members to evolve out of a vat of primordial ooze so that they can open a register. Maybe that facet of the brand is not “connecting.”—MEGHANN MARCO

Corporate Branding Oops [CNNMoney]
(Photo: Clean Wal-Mart)