Business 2.0 magazine released its 7th annual ranking of 101 Dumbest Moments in Business for categories like marketing, customer service, celebrities, bosses behaving badly, and top tech flops. The writers, Adam Horowitz, David Jacobson, Tom McNichol, and Owen Thomas, along with comedian Mo Rocca provide a hilarious view of how dumb we can really be in business, using a variety of pictures, video clips, and slapstick humor. The web page for this feature also includes information about where the people are now who actually did some of the dumbest things ever. I am trying to think of my own “Dumber Than Dumb” awards, but it is pretty hard to top their list. Here are some of my favorites highlighted in their rankings.
H.R. Hargreaves & Son
An unsuspecting shopper buys a package of ham in the grocery store. At home, he reads the ingredients, which includes “dog shit.” The British food processor promptly fires the employee responsible for the joke, and recalls all the packages of improperly labeled “meat.”
What could sell the new men’s Patriot line of Australian underwear? Besides the flag motif, how about an ad that reads, “”Wonderjock ball/extension support technology – separates and lifts, protruding everything out front instead of down toward the ground.” If that doesn’t work for you, the ad also states, “”Your country has never been prouder, and neither have you!”
Mayor of New Lenox, Illinois
The Mayor went out on the town with some friends who could not afford to pay the bill. Courtesy of the village of New Lenox, the Mayor paid the $1,462 strip club bill with the official village credit card.
Treasures are found stored in vanity drawers at two Home Depot Stores: in one was a 50-pound brick of marijuana and in another was 3 kilograms of cocaine.
A guide issued to laid off employees suggesting ways to save money included dumpster diving (“Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.”), making their own baby food, taking walks in the woods as a date, and shredding newspapers for cat litter.
Bank of America
Managers inform laid-off San Francisco area employees that they are outsourcing 100 tech-support jobs to India. They added – you have to train your replacement if you want your severance package.
It does not pay to try and copy Amazon’s technology for suggesting related products to customers in an effort to up-sell DVDs. When Wal-Mart’s web customers viewed DVD information for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes, Wal-Mart also suggested they view Martin Luther King: I Have a Dream/Assassination of MLK and Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.
Starbucks asks employees in the southeastern portion of the United States to email friends and family a coupon for a free iced-coffee. The email spreads like a viral campaign-gone-bad and coupons are reproduced in mass. The company pulls the offer, resulting in a $114 million class action lawsuit.
In a marketing campaign with The Apprentice to promote the Chevy Tahoe SUV, GM announces a contest on the web site where the public can produce 30-second commercials. The Internet became saturated with negative viral ads that bashed the SUV for being old technology and not suited to today’s global warming concerns.
An ad campaign implied their water is better because it is not bottled in Cleveland. Cleveland officials test the Fiji Water and find 6.3 micrograms of arsenic per liter, while Cleveland’s tap water has none. Fiji Water officials claim they only found 2.0 micrograms per liter of arsenic in their own tests of Fiji Water. – UUUMMM, OK.
In an effort to boost morale in the company, execs give every employee a 30-gig iPod. When employees were laid off, the company asked for the iPods back, claiming they were company property.