For decades, New Coke has been marketing shorthand for “a really bad marketing idea.” But, with the third season of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things taking place in 1985, the year of the New Coke debacle, the product and the marketing around it is being reevaluated. An interesting article in Mother Jones posits that New Coke was actually a great product, with great marketing, but it fell victim to what could be considered the first negative viral campaign.

According to the article, New Coke was doing great. It won taste tests, sales were up, and then … well, you’ll have to read the article to find out how one guy and a few newspaper articles threw things off. The article points to one of the central problems of marketing:  if your customers accept your brand identity as part of their own, what happens when you make changes to that brand?

Even if you accept New Coke as a mistake, it certainly didn’t hurt Coca-Cola for the long term. The company is even making money off of it today, selling “limited edition” cases of the beverage as a tie-in with Stranger Things. Also, spoiler alert, “Coke Classic,” which was brought back after the New Coke debacle, wasn’t actually the original Coke formula!

New Coke isn’t the only “marketing failure” that wasn’t actually a failure. Remember back in 2010 when everyone hated the iPad?  Lots of business experts thought everything about it, including its name, was a disaster. Today, few people would argue that the iPad was a mistake.

As much as we’d all like a Magic 8 Ball, you can’t always tell when a marketing idea will take off or fail. But as this list of the top eight marketing fails shows, paying attention to the mood of the market and your brand identity can help you avoid the worst mistakes.

Shaking a can of Coke is bad; shaking up your marketing might be good. If you’re looking for someone new to join your marketing or product team, contact us.

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