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A good first lesson for a salesperson selling, say, insurance, is not to say something like: You don’t want to buy any insurance, do you?
But things are so unraveled at Anheuser-Busch that perhaps that novice sales phrase will soon appear in a feeble attempt to offset the marketing disaster surrounding Bud Light.
Marketing historians, a role I’ve played from time to time, can note big goofs when companies misread their customers or commercial situational awareness.
In 1957, Ford introduced its long-planned Edsel model, not realizing it had missed the market by about three years. By 1960, Edsel was in the car marque junkyard.
In the mid-1980s, legendary Coca-Cola tampered with the taste of its flagship product, trying to make it more like Pepsi. Overwhelming consumer backlash prompted a reversal.
Kodak, a popular personal camera manufacturer for a century, invented the digital camera. Apparently not wanting to disrupt its lucrative film business, Kodak kept the technology under wraps, but such an invention was too hot to contain and it escaped the Kodak labs and decimated the company.
But Ford, Coke and Kodak unwittingly made mistakes. And perhaps with the exception of Coca-Cola, which could pivot in another direction, the companies paid dearly for their bad decisions.
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