Really Big Business Blunders
Had a bad day at work? Sent an email with a spelling error? Accidentally insulted the bossΓÇÖs new haircut? We all make mistakes.
But take some solace in the knowledge that the best known brands in the world have had much shoddier shifts than you ΓÇô here are some of the worldΓÇÖs worst mistakes from the School of Big Business.
ΓÇó How to Step On Your Own Toes
Coca-Cola might be one of the worldΓÇÖs most successful and longest-running brands, but that doesnΓÇÖt necessarily make them impervious to making mistakes.
Their most infamous error? Introducing a different-tasting ΓÇÿNew CokeΓÇÖ which so upset ΓÇÿOld CokeΓÇÖ loving consumers that it was withdrawn with an apology.
Their most recent blunder? Winter-themed white Coke cans that made the full-fat version look like Diet Coke.
Consumers, discovering why theyΓÇÖd been so confused and without Coke, called the can branding ΓÇÿblasphemyΓÇÖ, ΓÇÿradicalΓÇÖ and ΓÇÿa nightmareΓÇÖ.
ΓÇó How to Diss Your Own Products
Imagine not just creating a PR disaster and effectively razing your company to the ground, but actually having a negative effect named after you. So it was for Gerald Ratner ΓÇô the reason for the Ratner effect in business ΓÇô who made a really big, really stupid mistake in public.
Not realising he was being filmed at an event for company directors, he made a speech referring to the jewellery his brand sold as ΓÇÿtotal crapΓÇÖ. He famously joked that a pair of RatnerΓÇÖs earrings were ΓÇÿcheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich, but probably wouldnΓÇÖt last as longΓÇÖ.
The value of the business fell almost overnight by ┬ú500 million. After the company nearly completely folded, Ratner resigned, the Ratner Group became the Signet Group, and the ex-CEOΓÇÖs attempted-move to become a jewellery consultant in France unsurprisingly bombed.
ΓÇó How to Blatantly Plug Your Own Products
2006 was a great year for American retail chain Walmart. Why? Meet Laura and Jim, an adventurous and Walmart-adoring couple, who decided to set up a blog called ΓÇÿWalmarting Across AmericaΓÇÖ.
They described themselves not as bloggers but as travellers who just loved their local Walmart. They decided to go see a whole host of the chains across America, sharing online their interactions with happy and helpful staff, their appreciation for free RV parking at all outlets and their amazement at the fabulous (though widely criticised) management structure.
It wonΓÇÖt surprise you to learn that in reality, the couple was sponsored by Walmart who gave them their RV, flew them to Las Vegas to start their journey in style and then placed all the information they wanted to share along the way. That side of the story proved more popular.
ΓÇó How to Lose Your CustomersΓÇÖ Money
Ideally, as a business with a future, you want to avoid inadvertently stealing from your own client base and failing to return the money when asked.
But thatΓÇÖs what MF Global managed to do without even being aware of it. When the company started to struggle in 2009 and began to decline, alarmed stakeholders tried to withdraw their money. When they did, they found $1.6 billion missing.
ΓÇÿI simply do not know where the money is,ΓÇÖ said CEO, Jon Corzine. Comforting as this sentiment was, it wasnΓÇÖt enough to appease the US Congress. MF Global filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and is undergoing liquidation.
ΓÇó How to Lose Your Own Money
When it comes to decimating the bank balance, AOL looked a little closer to home. The internet company was a market dominator and a ticking time bomb, but at the time they joined with Time Warner nobody had a crystal ball.
The billion-dollar merger of new age AOL and old school Time Warner was completed in 2001 and followed quickly by the dot com bubble burst and a growing recession.
AOL Time Warner recorded the biggest annual business loss of all time ΓÇô a record-breaking $123.16 billion ΓÇô the year after the merger. The two companies limped along until 2009, when Time Warner announced that it would be setting up independently of AOL from that point on.