Ink Coffee’s and Wendy’s Firms as Examples of Marketing Failure
Some strategies may not be pre-evaluated well, resulting in marketing failures for companies, ranging in the severity of consequences from public criticism and drop in sales to loss on revenue and bankruptcy. The two cases of marketing failures were Ink Coffee’s gentrification sign and Wendy’s Twitter meme. Specifically, Ink Coffee received massive scrutiny in Denver when they placed a historically offensive sign outside one of their shops (Selk, 2017). Wendy’s, known for its active use of Twitter, posted a meme used in an anti-Semitic and racist context, resulting in people’s adverse reactions online (Taylor, 2017). These two firms’ actions are examples of poorly planned marketing that resulted in the boycott of the brand for Ink Coffee and criticism in social media for Wendy’s.
Ink Coffee: Gentrification Sign
Ink Coffee company makes coffee for its customers from hand-roasted beans with various responses from clients about the product’s quality and price. The firm was founded in a small village in Colorado by Keith Herbert, who learned special coffee-brewing techniques in Italy (Ink Coffee, n.d.). It later expanded to twelve other locations in Aspen and Denver in 2014 (Ink Coffee, n.d.). It was not on an international scale, but it gained popularity among the local population.
The peaceful existence of this coffee shop was interrupted after the three years after its expansion. Specifically, one morning the customers found the sign saying “happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014” (Selk, 2017). The message was quickly spread on the web, and citizens perceived it as a sign of arrogance and white supremacy, resulting in boycotting the brand by the many and protesting in front of its building (Selk, 2017).
Although the company founder and CEO apologized on social media several times, calling it a “bad joke,” many people demanded to close these coffee shops (Selk, 2017). The best decision for preventing this marketing failure could be not placing an advertisement with potentially offensive words for some groups. Since the accident happened, the most effective strategy would be to apologize publicly and announce temporal closure and re-branding because the bad reputation is a danger for the company’s future.
Wendy’s: Twitter Meme
Wendy’s is a fast-food company that has multiple offices in the United States and worldwide. The first Wendy’s restaurant was opened in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio, by Dave Thomas, who used fresh beef only for cooking (Wendy’s, n.d.). Later, the company decided to open the first drive-through to pick up ready orders (Wendy’s, n.d.). Indeed, the 1970s became the period of rising for Wendy’s because it started to open restaurants in other states and international offices, released its first commercial (Wendy’s, n.d.). Moreover, Wendy’s is known for its adoption fund founded in 1992 (Wendy’s, n.d.). By the time the company celebrated 50 years, it had many offices in different countries, enriched its menu, developed a mobile application, and became an active social media user.
The problem appeared when Wendy’s tweeted a meme that became the symbol of anti-Semitism and racism. The picture of a Pepe the Frog was posted on Wendy’s Twitter page in response to one of the follower’s requests for memes but was soon deleted (Taylor, 2017). Unfortunately, the tweet of the Frog in the restaurant’s mascot, “declared as a “hate symbol” by Anti-Defamation league,” was screenshotted by one of the users and reposted (Taylor, 2017).
The firm received a portion of public criticism on social media, but it did not significantly damage its sales. Still, it can be considered a marketing failure for the company with a flawless history and global impact. Therefore, similar incidents can be prevented in the future by the cautious use of social media platforms and employing personnel knowledgeable about offensive political terms and memes.
To summarize, attaining business success is challenging because a minor marketing error can ruin it. For instance, Ink Coffee started with a perfect reputation and a growing number of coffee shops. However, its position was shaken after placing a “happily gentrifying” sign outside that elicited a massive negative response and boycotting by the customers who viewed gentrification as the symbol of racial discrimination. Despite public apologies from the company’s founder, many clients were asking for the shop closure. Another marketing failure example is Wendy’s Twitter meme of Pepe the Frog in the restaurant’s mascot.
Although the post was almost immediately deleted, one of the followers managed to save it and retweet, causing discussions and criticism on Twitter. Still, Wendy’s seems to receive less public scrutiny than Ink Coffee. These two situations could be prevented if every message to the target market was controlled for discriminatory and offensive context.
Ink Coffee (n.d.) About us. Web.
Selk, A. (2017) ‘A coffee shop celebrated gentrification – and is now profusely penitent’, The Washington Post. Web.
Taylor, K. (2017) ‘Wendy’s won and lost an epic Twitter troll war in just 24 hours. Business Insider. Web.
Wendy’s (n.d.) The Wendy’s story. Web.