Every year, at about this time, we take great pleasure in assembling and releasing the outcomes of our annual DUMB REPORT, a selection of goofs, gaffs and groaners from the world of business, politics, media and marketing.
As we’ve said in the past, making mistakes is all part of growing a business. According to the wisdom of Kerry Packer, “If you get things right 60 percent of the time, you will rule the world.” It’s just a pity that not all mistakes are created equal.
This year, we’ve been witness to some doozies – classic corporate catastrophes, brain-busting business blunders, poorly planned political plays, masterfully mismanaged moments of marketing mayhem and far, far too many financial follies.
We’ve provided some samples below.
But in the spirit of collaboration — to reflect our not-so-new dedication to digital — it didn’t seem right to simply follow the form of previous years and declare this year’s Top 10 from on high (which would be so web 1.0).
Instead, this year, we’re seeking your input. (We’ve even got prizes!) We’re asking you, dear readers, to nominate your favourite moment of commercial ‘stoopidity’.
Then, once we’ve amassed a small armoury of barbed (and delightfully humourous) moments, we plan to once again turn to you for your vote, which we’re calling, The People’s Poll of Business Blunders for 2009.
What’s in it for you? Any suggestions that we use in our Top 10 (People’s Poll of Business Blunders) will win the ‘source’ (i.e. the person responsible for the suggestion) the classic business documentary DVD “ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room.”
So, what was your favourite moment of eye-brow raising, eye-ball popping, forehead slapping ‘dumbness’ for 2009? What were the ill-informed decisions, poorly conceived initiatives and knee-jerk responses from the worlds of business, politics, media and marketing that got you talking this past year?
To get you thinking, here are three of our favourite groaners for 2009:
Marketing: iSnack 2.Doh!
Few marketing campaigns copped more consumer and industry criticism than Kraft’s first foray into social media marketing. The crowdsourcing experiment, designed to name a new version of Vegemite, delivered an omnibus of naming options from Vegemite fans (10,000, in fact). Yet, according to speculative newspaper reporters at the time, the final name, iSnack 2.0, was chosen by a panel of “marketing and communication experts” to appeal to a younger market, capitalising on the popularity of Apple’s iPod and iPhone. The choice immediately drew almost universal criticism. Several critics also pointed out that the name is not even original; iSnack is the name of an energy bar manufactured by South African company PVM Products and is also the trademark used by an American Corn Chip manufacturer (iSnack). Here’s our tip for the marketing mavericks at Kraft. We respect your intentions but… to borrow from the monosyllabic vernacular of the crowd you covet… #FAIL. Because of you, ‘i’ named products will now forever be tainted by the smell of cheese and yeast. (Or maybe that’s a good thing?)
Media: Hey Hey, it’s Jackson Jive!
Taking a very close second place to the Kyle Sandilands ‘lie-detector’ controversy among our fave media mishaps, we couldn’t overlook the sheer ‘dumbness’ of the Hey Hey it’s Saturday Reunion producers for allowing the now internationally infamous Red Faces skit to go to air. US singer Harry Connick Jnr, who made a guest appearance on the reunion special, shared his discomfort over the act with Hey Hey host Daryl Somers, who arranged then for Connick Jnr to voice his concerns at the end of the show. “Thanks Daryl — and I just wanted to say on behalf of my country, I know it was done in humour… but we have spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that we take it really to heart,” Connick Jnr said. Australia cringed and Channel Nine responded by commissioning a full series for 2010.
Politics: The Liberal Party (generally).
Umm… well… according to the average punter, Liberal Party politics and policy for 2009 will be remembered for Business Bullies, Unknown Upstarts, Mad Monks and Budgie-Smugglers. (Plus, something about an ETS?) Democracy doesn’t work without a viable alternative. So, whichever way you swing (and I’m not talking about Abbott’s choice of beach wear), let’s hope that 2010 delivers an opposition that’s more sensitively attired. And some final words of advice to aspirational political leaders: If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen. (And yes, that was a reference to climate change.)
Bring on the dumbness Anthillians!
Update: If you’d like to contribute on Twitter, use hashtag #dumbreport. Here’s a selection already on Twitter:
@singhd how about listing some of the spectacular liquidations in 2009, there were many of those #dumbreport
@PaulDRyan It’s gotta be ‘The corporate spin FAIL of the year so far’… by Mars http://bit.ly/5xzOVI #dumbreport
@KerryPintado I’d rather the most HUMAN business moments for 2009 as assembling a legitimate list! #dumbreport
@dhgarske Wetpac Interest move – and Gail Kelly follow up explanation #dumbreport
@bennyzeee iSnack 2.0 will be high on the list. But personally, I like the new Qantas logo that looks exactly the same as the old one.
@evilsnoofy Westpac would have to be up there. Bank manager ads followed by shafting customers with the over the RBA rate rise
@detaildevils Add the Virgin Blue email blunder on Friday 13 November http://bit.ly/1m7TS9 #dumbreport
@PaulDRyan How about all the big corporates that abandoned Second Life this year. Swingin’ saloon doors…
@markrobilliard: Recent raw experience gives my vote to Qantas for acting like Jetstar Asia is not their responsibility
@Robelen RT @AnthillMagazine: #dumbreport McDonalds proudly announcing the Angus Burger has actual cheese. Wots in da normal burger?
@OstinMilbarge #dumbreport Let’s say the Liberal Party – a fruit that was almost ready to be ripe, only to be stomped on by the farmer.
@antmarketing #dumbreport Apple having a crack at Woolworth’s for allegedly breaching its copyright. What the !? http://ow.ly/JKyJ
@dantreacy @jamestuckerman Woolies should countersue. They were selling apples long before Jobs was born 😉 #dumbreport
@kwingerei @anthillMagazine #dumbreport #Westpacs banana promo has got to be up there!
@gctim #dumbreport BrisConn instalment payments kerfuffle
@mywingman I like Telstra for their “tell us what you think and we’ll pay you” idea. PR stunt much? Patronising at all? #dumbreport
@OneNakedApe The remix of “I still call Australia Home” by Qantas gets my vote #dumbreport Its antiquated, boring & cliche Australian
And on Anthill’s LinkedIn Group…
Virgin Blue’ Velocity email without a doubt…..
Posted by Harold Dimpel
Rather current I know but Westpac’s recent video promo treating their customers as full on dumb with that stupid banana/money analogy would have to be the dumbest PR stunt I’ve ever seen…not in 2009 but ever.
Posted by Peter J Cahill
Dubai’s investment of 8 billion in Citibank at $30 a share when 6 months later they could have picked them up at $1 a share
Posted by NIKOLAI PETROVSKY
A$20 million of taxpayers’ money spent by ASIC on Jodie Rich One.Tel case
Posted by Robyn Lewis