Hey! Remember the 2000′s?

The “Naughties”. The “Noughties”. Whatever you choose to call the first decade of the new millennium, you’ll have to agree on one thing.

We’ve seen some absolutely stunning marketing. And some complete dross.

My marketing masterpiece of the 2000s seems to have been lifted from Withnail and I, whereas the marketing misfire probably wouldn’t even make it into Horne & Corden.

The Marketing Masterpiece

Magners Irish Cider – Bulmers (2004-2006)

(Disclaimer: I can’t stand cider. I’ve not touched it since about 1999, aged 14, in the park)

“Two large gins. Two pints of cider. Ice in the cider”
Withnail – Withnail & I

Remember cider back in the 90s? The drink of choice for the poor, the underage and the derelict.

Chances are that you’d pay for cider using change, most of it copper. You’d then swig your scuzzy scrumpy from the bottle in the glamorous surrounds of a shop doorway.

Fast forward a decade, and people with jobs are paying ridiculous prices for that same product and drinking it inside.

From glasses.

Over ice.

You wouldn't touch this when it was Woodpecker

That’s all it took for cider to make the transition from tramp juice to the drink of choice for hip young things across the country. Ice. Ice and a few adverts with a homely Oirish voiceover. Between 2004 and 2006, Bulmers reported a 40% increase in sales thanks to Magners Irish Cider, and all because watering down cider with ice became cool.

For turning a drink barely superior to meths into the next best thing to champers, Bulmers showed us all how powerful good marketing can be.

The Marketing Misfire

Sea Kittens – PETA (2009)

(Disclaimer: I’m not in favour of cruelty to fish, I just think PETA are idiots)

I really don’t think the twenty-something vegetarians are going to get that stoned that they want to come home and read the unintentionally funny Struwwelpeter-meets-Lemony-Snicket “Sea Kitten Stories” before their comedown.
Katy Evans-Bush – Textpixels

Fish have a bad lot, say PETA. We’re really awful to them. Not because they’re tasty and healthy, but because they’re slimy and slithery. So what better way to save the fish than to rebrand them?

Well, any way really. Drawing a cartoon fish in a cat costume and calling it a “Sea Kitten” isn’t going to stop fish being tasty, or make it any less appetising to pescavores.

The most tragic thing about the Sea Kittens campaign is that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall showed campaigners how to make people think about where their food comes from with his anti-battery chicken crusade. Wouldn’t farmed salmon swimming in their own shit have made a more effective image than this?

Not pictured - 10,000 cellmates and litres of fish urine

Not pictured - 10,000 cellmates and litres of fish urine

Katy Evans-Bush summed it up perfectly in her post on the matter: “How to use PR to make people do the opposite of what you want.” Nearly everyone that saw this either laughed so much they missed the point about overfishing and trawling, or decided they’d like haddock for tea that evening.

It’s better to be instantly forgettable than memorably foolish, as any PETA campaigner who’s suffered ridicule following this campaign will tell you.

Maybe PETA should get in touch with Bulmers’ advertising company?

With ten years of adverts to choose from, there must be other marketing misfires and masterpieces to add to the list. Let me know your thoughts by contacting me – I’ll publish the best (and worst) marketing ploys in a post later this month, with a big fat backlink to your site or blog.

Of course, if you’d just like to pick holes in my choices, you can leave a comment below.


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