5 Promotional Events Gone Wrong

There is a lot of truth to the saying, “a failure to plan is a plan for failure” and advertising is certainly no exception. Faulty execution or poor planning can result in disasterous consequences and cost business owners thousands of dollars or more. When it comes to promotional events, history has shown us the results of improper planning. Here’s a look as some promotional events gone horribly awry.


1. Pepsi Baseball Giveaway

In 2009, Pepsi held a promotional event promising 250 tickets to MLB’s opening day at Yankee Stadium. When the promised day arrived, promoters showed up with only 100 tickets, and many of the tickets were for later games in June rather than opening day. Needless to say, fans were outraged and responded by pouring their Pepsi into the street.




2. Ten Cent Beer Night

June 4th 1974 taught the world a grave lesson: don’t ever offer (almost) free alcohol to a massive crowd. In an attempt to draw more fans, Cleveland Stadium decided to host a “ten cent” beer night for the game against the Texas Rangers. The result was a crowd of about 25,000 people – nearly all of them heavily intoxicated.




3. McDonald’s Computer Virus

In 2006, McDonald’s held a promotion in Japan in which 10,000 MP3 players were given away. Unfortunately, many of those MP3 players were loaded with the QQ Pass Trojan, a virus that steals personal data and sends it to hackers once it’s plugged into the computer. Oops!


4. Hoover Airline Giveaway

In 1992, Hoover decided to provide free airfare anywhere in the U.S. or Europe to anyone who spent more than 100 Euros on their cleaning products. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite have their math right and ended up losing around $72.6 million dollars.


5. Carl’s Junior Coupon

Carl’s Junior attempted to launch an online promotional coupon for a free burger to 276 winners. The winners were sent a coupon code via text message, which they could use to redeem their free burger. The code was only valid for 48 hours, but that was plenty of time for the winners to let their friends in on the code. The next day the codes were all over the internet and the food chain had to pull the plug on this promotion.



It’s good to get the word out about your business – just make sure the word is a good one.  For more information on how R-KIVE Studios can help. Contact us today!

I am the Owner/Creative Director of R-KIVE Studios. I have been in the Graphic Arts & Design field for 15+ years.

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