7 Marketing Stunts Gone Horribly Wrong
Any press is good press, right? Well … not when the marketing stunts responsible involve dead customers, dead elephants, and Adolf Hitler.
By Kevin Koenig
Three years ago, the network launched a funny guerrilla marketing campaign in Boston … that completely blew up in their face when it shut down parts of the city, caused moderate public outrage, and made national headlines. (So, come to think of it, maybe it worked.) Anyway, more on that later.
As we fondly remembered how a few Lite Brites shut down Beantown, we wondered if there were other marketing gimmicks that went as horribly wrong. Turns out there were! From morning-radio zoo keepers killing people with dumb contests to insane inventors killing elephants with massive doses of electricity, we’ve found several incredibly ill-advised stunts devised to sell products.
Some of which even worked. Like, for instance, one designed to sell not only tickets to watch terribly played baseball, but also beer …
Cleveland Indians’ Ten Cent Beer Night*
Attendance at Cleveland Indians games was lousy during the 1973 season — an estimated 8,000 fans showed up per game to a stadium that held more than 80,000. The Tribe wanted to boost attendance the following season, and so came up with a promotion guaranteed to increase sales: Ten Cent Beer Night!
Yep, it was exactly what it sounds like — really cheap beer. (In today’s money, it’s about 50 cents per brewski.)
Shockingly, happy-go-lucky streakers, mooners, and flashers dominated the early innings … and then came the riot.
In the 9th inning, Ranger Jeff Burroughs confronted a fan who tried to steal his hat. Rangers players — some carrying bats for protection — ran onto the field in support of Burroughs and soon found themselves embroiled in a scene straight out of The Warriors as Indians fans wielding knives and chains poured onto the field. It got so crazy that Cleveland manager Ken Aspromonte ordered his players to grab bats and defend the Rangers. The Indians ended up forfeiting the game and Ten Cent Beer Night never happened again.
* Relax, Chicagoans. We picked this over the Disco Demolition Night fiasco at Comiskey Park in 1979 because free beer > disco. That said, we remain huge fans of DDN’s organizer, radio legend Steve Dahl.