Haunting Marketing Mistakes

We’ve all been there: you accidentally hit send on an email that’s not quite finished. Or maybe you’ve been the recipient of a large-scale marketing campaign with a glaring typo.

Whether you’re the one making the mistake, or just the one seeing it, marketing errors make great stories—once you’ve gotten over the initial embarrassment, of course.

We summoned submissions from our followers and compiled some hilarious—and cringeworthy—marketing team horror stories that are eerily relatable. 

Note: Each blurb is told from the point of view of the person who submitted the story. Names have been withheld to protect the guilty.

Wicked website migrations

We decided to pull an all-nighter at the office to migrate 45 websites for a client. We ordered food in and settled in for the night.  

About 3 a.m. we started feeling sick. By 5 a.m., we were all living in the restrooms with food poisoning. 

When other employees started rolling in at 8 a.m., they saw my team, sweating, miserable, and trying to launch the remaining sites. We got the job done, but we felt like death doing it!

Direct mail dread

I arranged to have a bunch of direct mail pieces printed, and then had them mailed to the completely wrong client in the wrong location.

Teamwork? More like screamwork!

Our client hosted an in-person annual planning session at their headquarters. Our digital marketing company, along with our client’s design agency, were in attendance.

There was bad blood between the agency CEOs, and during the meeting, the other agency tried to take over the job. Our CEO sent an expletive-laced SMS message to our team, deriding the other CEO. Unfortunately, he included the other CEO’s number in the message!

The agency CEO stepped out and called our CEO into the hall. Their yelling had to be broken up by the company’s marketing manager. As punishment, BOTH agencies had to work together to implement the project!

A risqué CTA

I sent an email via Mailchimp with the subject line “Send Us a Sext” instead of “Send Us a Text.” This was to market our new service ZipWhip, which lets you text your insurance agent directly from your phone.

A case of foot-in-mouth disease

I was on a team that worked on an account with an incredibly difficult client who wanted to micromanage every bid optimization and negative keyword addition. My team lead decided to contact our client’s boss to discuss mending things. 

Unfortunately, the communication occurred over email. Shortly after the email was sent, we realized the client had also accidentally been cc’d. You can only imagine the cringe-y back and forth that ensued.

The scariest send

I sent the wrong offer in an email campaign. It cost the company about $500k…

RIP-ly all

I worked for a company with more than a million employees. One day, my inbox had at least 500+ emails, all with the same subject line. Most were people asking to be removed from the list and others saying to stop clicking “reply all.”

It was chaos and soon became the first lecture of onboarding sessions for new employees.

Vanishing values

I woke up one morning to a message about pages on our website suddenly 404ing. Turns out, someone had removed all AMP URLs from the site. In doing so, that removed all instances of the letters AMP next to each other. So URLs that contained, for example, “camp,” “example,” or “rampant” had AMP removed and redirected to “c,” “exle,” or “rant.” 

About 15,000 pages had been mass redirected, all at once. Thankfully, with WordPress, it was an easy problem to fix!

Killing the calendar

WordPress VIP uses multiple whole-company, shared calendars. Well, in my first few weeks while organizing my own calendar, I accidentally deleted the VIP Team Meetings shared calendar. For everyone. 

Luckily, we operate with a very transparent culture to “own it and document it,” so I posted on our company P2 about what happened and asked for help to resolve it. Everyone was very kind about it, and it led to a larger conversation about improving workflows!

It made for a great ice breaker, to say the least!

The scariest mistake of all?

From our perspective, that’s easy: not capitalizing the P in WordPress. 

Learn more about the world’s leading agile CMS and check out our How to Do Better Content Marketing series so you can avoid making abominable marketing mistakes in the future.

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