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How to Bounce Back from a Marketing Mishap

These days, brands have more ways than ever to make a marketing mistake. VRBO, for instance, sent out a test email to everyone on its newsletter list and got ridiculed. It’s response the next day made up for it, and more. Here’s how companies have used creativity to solve their marketing mishaps.


VRBO, an online vacation rental marketplace, is a service dedicated to helping people relax. But maybe they were a little too relaxed themselves when they sent out a blank test email to literally everyone on their newsletter list. That’s a major faux pas for brands, since it confuses users and of course makes the brand appear less than professional. Fortunately, they got back into everyone’s good graces with a clever follow up email.

Owning up to their mistake, they quickly rerouted the conversation in a light and humorous way that not only admitted they did something wrong, but also pivoted to their value statement — a real one-two punch.


It didn’t take long for the email to explode on Twitter, with many users guessing that the company’s intern had pressed the send button a little earlier than they were supposed to. HBO Max quickly responded to the issue with a tweet explaining in a tongue-in-cheek tone that, yes, their intern was responsible for the little inbox surprise.

There are two big lessons to learn from this mishap. The first is that, when a marketing mishap happens on a social media website, it’s important to respond ASAP. Typically, a brand has between 1-2 hours to make amends for their mistake. The second thing to realize is that it’s important not to overreact — all it took was a quick acknowledgement of the issue and a little joke for HBO Max to make amends with its subscribers.


What was meant to be a cheeky reminder about the importance of personal finance turned into a major headache for Chase when they tweeted out a playful imagined conversation between a customer and their bank account.

Social media was quick to jump on the tweet, with big names like Senator Elizabeth Warren taking the bank to task for the tweet’s chiding tone. Chase did the right thing by swiftly apologizing. “Our #MondayMotivation is to get better at #MondayMotivation tweets,” the bank later tweeted. “Thanks for the feedback Twitter world.”

Final thoughts

While these marketing mishaps are comparatively minor, the same rules still hold for larger missteps. Responding quickly is one of the best things a brand can do. From there, apologizing and showing an understanding of the nature of the mistake is critical — aggression won’t get your brand anywhere in today’s media-saturated world.


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