How to Turn Marketing Mistakes into Marketing Magic

It’s the end of the year — and despite a surplus of holiday cheer and the promise of a new year, sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. If you’re a marketer, maybe your holiday marketing campaign just isn’t resonating like you wanted it to, or maybe a typo in a recent Tweet from your corporate account incurred the wrath of a frightening number of your followers.

…or, perhaps you awarded the Miss Universe title to the wrong contestant. Like I said, even during the most wonderful time of the year, things can take a turn for the worst.

But let’s not dwell on the negatives. Instead, I’d like to take a look at a few companies that have taken bad situations and turned them into something great. As a B2B marketer, and particularly as a content marketer, I’m always impressed by how quickly companies can pivot an unfortunate situation into a brilliant marketing campaign.

Here are a few that have recently caught my eye. (Scroll to the end of the article for some of my takeaways for great “recovery” marketing!)

Vegas restaurant Frijoles and Frescas turns a burglary into a viral video marketing campaign.

If you’re a Redditor, then you’ve probably seen the video created by Frijoles and Frescas, a Vegas-based restaurant that fell victim to a burglary shortly before the holidays. While the restaurant was unable to catch its two burglars in person, they did get some enlightening surveillance footage from the inside and outside of their facility.

Most companies would simply turn the footage over to the authorities, but not Frijoles and Frescas. Instead, they used it to create a viral video, featuring two bumbling burglars who break into a taco joint purely because the tacos are so good (the caption of the video reads: “We think they may have been looking for tacos. Not sure.”). You can check out the humorous video — which has already garnered more than three million views after being posted to Reddit — below.

Burger King reacts to Miss Universe’s stolen crown.

In one of the more recent examples of successful newsjacking, Burger King jumped on the Miss Universe bandwagon after Steve Harvey accidentally awarded the crown to the wrong contestant at this year’s pageant. The situation was awkward for all involved (to say the least) — not only for the contestants on stage, but also for the viewers at home.

The following day, Burger King tweeted out a picture of their famous cardboard crown in an effort to piggyback off of the publicity the controversy was generating. The Tweet read: “At BK everyone gets to keep their crown.” To date, the Tweet has been shared over 50,000 times.

Touché, Burger King, touché.

The takeaways?

While B2B marketers may not have a lot in common with the restaurants mentioned above, there are some valuable marketing lessons here that can help us find the best in every situation.

  • Find the humor. It may not be easy, but sometimes the best way to overcome a bad or uncomfortable situation is to laugh at it. That’s what Frijoles and Frescas did after they were burglarized, and look where it got them!
  • Newsjacking is all about timeliness and relevance — just make sure it’s tasteful. Newsjacking can be brilliant when done correctly, but there’s a fine line between “clever” and “distasteful.” If you’re planning to newsjack a current event, be mindful of people’s views on politics, religion, and even pop culture. If your topic of interest is overly controversial, it may be best to let it be.
  • Own up to your mistakes. In the marketing industry, it’s common to see emails that get sent out on the wrong dates and Tweets with the occasional typo. These things happen. Instead of letting it get to you — own up to it! A great example that comes to mind is an email I received last week from a company who prematurely sent out an email about a promotion they were launching in January. An hour later, I received a second email that said, “We apologize. It must be the eggnog. We intended to schedule this email to go out to you on Monday, January 4, but accidentally sent it today.” This simple apology, which incorporated a small amount of humor to lighten the situation, likely went a long way toward patching things up with irritated email recipients.

What other examples of great recovery marketing have you seen? Let us know in the comments!