Frederik Van Lierde

Marketing Missteps Turned into Success: 8 Brands That Bounced Back

Turn setbacks into success! Read how 8 major brands bounced back from marketing mishaps to achieve incredible comebacks. Marketing Missteps Turned into Success: 8  Brands That Bounced Back

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Every marketing move can be a make-or-break moment for your business. Understanding the resilience of established brands can be a game-changer. "Marketing Missteps Turned into Success: 8 Brands That Bounced Back" offers an insightful look into the dynamic environment of marketing strategies through the lens of recovery and success.

This article is a must-read for startup founders, entrepreneurs, and marketing managers who aspire to navigate the market's volatility with finesse. Learn from the misjudgments that turned into masterstrokes as we dissect how these brands transformed their potential disasters into remarkable successes.


In 2017, a controversial ad featuring Kendall Jenner was criticized for trivializing protest movements like Black Lives Matter. Pepsi pulled the ad and apologized

What went wrong?
The ad aimed to connect with younger, socially aware viewers by showing Jenner stepping away from a photoshoot to join a protest, where she hands a Pepsi to a cop, making the crowd cheer. But, people saw it as making light of the real and sometimes risky nature of protests, especially those related to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The negative reaction came quickly and strongly, with people slamming Pepsi for being insensitive and using social justice issues to sell their product.

How they solved it, and why it worked
Pepsi reacted quickly and clearly to the problem by removing the ad from everywhere within 24 hours and saying sorry to the public. Their apology admitted they had made a bad call and explained they wanted to spread a message of worldwide peace and understanding, not make light of serious social issues.

By acting fast and talking clearly, Pepsi managed to lessen the blow. They showed they were ready to hear what people had to say and learn from their errors by openly tackling the issue and taking responsibility. This method was key in keeping the brand’s good name and trust with customers, something vital for any business, especially during tough times.


In 2010, Gap introduced a new logo that was immediately disliked by the public. The backlash was so severe that Gap reverted to the old logo within six days

What went wrong?
Gap’s 2010 try at rebranding is a classic case of a marketing flop. The famous clothing brand chose to change its well-loved logo, which had represented them for over twenty years. The new logo, featuring plain black text and a tiny blue square, was instantly disliked by the public.

Dedicated customers and design lovers both voiced their strong dislike on social media, causing a big wave of bad feedback. This quickly turned into a major headache for Gap’s public relations team.

How they solved it, and why it worked
Gap quickly bounced back from the criticism by ditching the new logo and bringing back the old one only six days after its debut. This fast move showed their customers that their thoughts really mattered.

By going back to the classic logo, Gap kept its brand’s history and customer loyalty intact, which might have taken a hit if they had stuck with the disliked new design. Even though it looked like a step back, this action strengthened Gap’s dedication to its customers and showed that they put customer feelings above trying out new marketing ideas.

Burger King

On International Women’s Day 2021, a tweet from Burger King UK that started with “Women belong in the kitchen” sparked outrage despite its subsequent clarification about promoting gender diversity in the culinary industry. Burger King deleted the tweet and apologized.

What went wrong?
Their tweet, “Women belong in the kitchen,” was supposed to grab attention before talking about the gender gap in the restaurant world and to highlight their scholarship program for women chefs.

But, the first tweet came off as sexist to many, burying the message they wanted to send and sparking a huge backlash online. Right away, people were upset, accusing Burger King of supporting sexist views, even though they meant to push for change.

How they solved it, and why it worked
In response to the backlash, Burger King UK promptly deleted the controversial tweet and issued a public apology, acknowledging that Following the backlash, Burger King UK quickly removed the tweet that caused the stir and said they were sorry, admitting that their effort to shed light on a serious issue didn’t go as planned.

By owning up to the mistake and stressing their dedication to gender diversity, Burger King managed to steer the conversation back to the good parts of their scholarship program. Pulling the tweet and offering a heartfelt apology showed they were responsible and helped ease the public’s view, proving that when a marketing move doesn’t hit the target, being open and acting fast can help fix the connection with the audience.


A Chinese commercial from Audi that showed a mother inspecting the bride as if she were a car was deemed sexist and objectifying. Audi withdrew the ad and expressed regret.

What went wrong?
Audi’s ad in China caused quite a stir by showing a bride being closely examined by her future mother-in-law, just like someone would check out a car, ending with a message about making big decisions with care.

The aim was to highlight the importance of choosing Audi’s certified pre-owned vehicles carefully. It ended up offending people by seeming to treat the bride like an object, something to be bought or sold.

The reaction from the public was immediate, with many calling the ad sexist and saying it supported old-fashioned and negative views.

How they solved it, and why it worked
Audi quickly pulled the ad and shared their regrets. By admitting their mistake and stopping the ad’s spread, Audi showed they care about how people feel and are dedicated to keeping a respectful brand image.

Their fast recognition of the problem and their apology helped calm the initial upset and prevent lasting harm to their brand. This move showed everyone that Audi stands for respect and equality, which are crucial for keeping customer loyalty and trust.

American Airlines

Introduced the “AAirpass” for unlimited first-class travel which led to huge financial losses for the company when customers took more flights than anticipated. American Airlines ended up revoking some of the passes, which led to lawsuits.

What went wrong?
The deal, which was incredibly attractive to frequent flyers, ended up costing the airline a lot more than expected because people flew much more than the airline had planned for.

Without any checks in place to prevent this heavy usage, the program turned into an expensive mistake for the company.

How they solved it, and why it worked
To stop the bleeding of funds, American Airlines had to make the hard choice to cancel some of the AAirpasses, blaming it on people not using the program as intended.

Even though this led to some legal battles, it was a move they needed to make to keep the airline financially healthy. While it sparked debate, putting these limits in place was a vital part of American Airlines’ plan to fix the heavy financial load the AAirpass program had put on them.

This action, though it came with its own set of legal issues, highlighted the critical need for careful thinking and sustainable planning in creating promotional deals.


A 2015 Christmas ad that seemed to suggest spiking a friend’s eggnog was heavily criticized. Bloomingdale’s issued an apology for the insensitive content.

What went wrong?
The ad showed a man looking at a woman with the caption “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking,” which a lot of people thought was distasteful and insensitive.

The suggestion of doing something without consent, especially during a holiday and family time, quickly upset customers and activists.

How they solved it, and why it worked
Bloomingdale’s answered the upset by saying sorry publicly, agreeing that the ad was wrong and in bad taste. Even though they couldn’t take back the catalogues that were already out there, admitting the mistake and apologizing helped tackle the issue directly. Bloomindale’s reaction showed that the company understood how serious the situation was and took responsibility, which is key to keeping customers’ trust and reducing bad press.


A 2017 Facebook ad intended to celebrate diversity was perceived as racist. Dove removed the ad and apologized, affirming a commitment to representing women of colour thoughtfully.

What went wrong?
The brief video showed a black woman turning into a white woman after using Dove body wash, leading many people to think it suggested a racial ranking in terms of cleanliness.

The reaction was quick and far-reaching, with the ad appearing to repeat racist clichés that have been used to belittle people of colour historically.

How they solved it, and why it worked
Dove acted fast by taking down the ad and offering a sincere apology, expressing their regret for the upset caused and their commitment to represent all women with thought and respect. Their quick and genuine reply demonstrated Dove’s dedication to listening to their audience and their readiness to fix mistakes right away.


In 1985, the introduction of “New Coke” with a new recipe met with public disapproval, prompting the return of the original formula as “Coca-Cola Classic”

What went wrong?
The company wanted to give the brand a fresh boost and draw in younger people. But, the change faced huge public rejection. Loyal customers felt left out, and the change sparked a cultural pushback with folks demanding the original flavour they had come to adore.

How they solved it, and why it worked
Coca-Cola quickly recognized what people wanted and brought back the original recipe as “Coca-Cola Classic.” This fast move to fix customer unhappiness flipped a marketing flop into a win, making the brand’s legendary status even stronger.

When the original came back, it was like everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and sales jumped up. This comeback showed Coca-Cola’s readiness to hear out its customers and confirmed the strong emotional bond folks had with the original drink.

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