What were they thinking? Is this the worst marketing gaff ever?

    © Jaimie Duplass - Fotolia.com
    © Jaimie Duplass – Fotolia.com

    Airport parking provider, AirportParkingReservations.com, have caused a right kerfuffle on the other side of the pond after sending a promotional email to customers.

    The company, which operates at more than 85 airports in the US and Canada, sent out an email on Monday containing the heading ‘Can On-Airport Parking Kill?’

    The email then told the sad story of a 55-year-old man who was found dead at a Chicago O’Hare Airport car park. The cause of death was unknown, but they suggested one possible reason could be stress – the “process of arriving to the airport, getting through security, and boarding the plane can be very stressful.”

    The email then ended with the slogan, “Don’t be late and end up in a crate. Save stress and possibly anything worse by utilizing technology and reserving all your travel needs in advance.” They also offered a $5 discount on airport parking.

    The offending email
    The offending email

    The email rightly caused an angry backlash from the people who received it and the company quickly a released an apology for causing “frustration and grief”.

    “We would like to sincerely apologise for the last marketing email sent that has caused frustration and grief for our customers. We strive to provide our customers with the utmost service and respect; however, we fell short on this commitment,” the company said.

    “There is no excuse for the topic of the recent email sent to our customers, and we can only extend our deepest apologies to those disrespected by it.

    “We have ensured that any marketing or communication sent from our company will not contain any sensitive or offensive content of that nature. We appreciate your continued business with us and apologize once again for this unfortunate event.”

    AirportParkingReservations.com are not the first, or probably the last company to score a massive own-goal with a marketing idea that should have been thought out a bit more.

    Here are six that should probably never have seen the light of day;

    Electrolux, the Scandinavian vacuum-cleaner manufacturer, used the slogan “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux” in an American ad campaign.

    American brewing company Coors translated its slogan, “Turn it loose,” into Spanish, where it translated into “Suffer from diarrhoea.”

    In China, Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” slogan became “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”, when it was translated into Chinese.

    Parker Pens marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, with the slogan, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. However, they wrongly thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so their ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

    When Gerber, the subsidiary of Nestle began selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in they did in the US – a beautiful baby on the label. But they later learned that because of the low literacy rate in Africa, companies commonly put pictures of what’s inside, on the label.

    And finally, Groupon famously caused controversy with the following advertisement during the 2011 Super Bowl XLV by making light of the situation faced by the people of Tibet, to plug their services.