It’s all fun and games until someone thinks your briefcase is a bomb. That’s what happened in Toronto Monday when a Coors Light Canada marketing stunt closed down one of the city’s busy intersections. It’s definitely not the first time a major company has slipped up and done something they’ve regretted in order to promote a product.
Here’s a list of 10 publicity stunts gone wrong:
The silver briefcase
What could go wrong by placing a random briefcase at a busy intersection in Toronto? The marketing department at Coors Light Canada must have been drinking their own supply when they thought of the “Search and Rescue” promotion. The idea was a part of a challenge using online maps and clues through Twitter to find the prized briefcases. The company said more than 850 briefcases were to be hidden across Canada during July, but posted to Twitter shortly after the Toronto incident saying, “all adventures must come to an end.”
Go ahead, take my social security number
Poor Todd Davis. And we mean that literally. The CEO of LifeLock, a company that vowed - for a nominal fee each month – to protect a person’s identity, posted his social security number publicly in 2006 and invited people to try and steal his identity. It didn’t work. According to phoenixnewtimes.com, Davis’s identity was stolen more than a dozen times and the company was fined $12 million for deceptive advertising.
Storming a movie theatre with fake guns? Horrible idea
(Screengrab from YouTube)
Less than a year after a mass shooting at a theatre in Colorado left 12 people dead, a theatre in Missouri thought it would be smart to have a group of actors, wearing SWAT gear and armed with fake guns, storm a screening of Iron Man 3. Local police were called, said businessinsider.com, and the theatre later apologized.
Hold your wee for a Wii
(Nintendo Wii remote file photo)
What’s the worst that can happen from a publicity stunt? Someone dying has to be up there.
It happened to a California radio station in 2007. Their contest called for participants to drink as much water as they could without going to the bathroom. The winner, according to nbcnews.com,died of water intoxication hours after taking part in the “hold your wee for a Wii” contest.
What’s the ‘No. 1 party school?’
... is a question Molson Coors Brewing Co. shouldn’t have asked Canadian university students in 2007. The contest called for students, many of whom were below the legal drinking age, to send in their best partying pics for a chance to win a trip to Cancun, Mexico. According to bloomberg.com, a spokesperson said the “intent was being misinterpreted.” Right. What else were you expecting, a glass of beer neatly placed next to a textbook? Administrators from universities including Queen’s and McMaster criticized the contest and the company ended it early.
Two trains, one track, full steam ahead at each other
(Wikpedia Commons file picture)
It is the oldest stunt on our list, and it’s no wonder it hasn’t been replicated (we hope). In 1896, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway needed to attract more customers. So why not build a town and name it Crush for the sole purpose of having two trains hurtle towards each other at full steam? Organizers didn’t account for the boilers to explode upon the collision and three of the 50,000 spectators ended up dying and many more were injured.
Department of Defence flies plane low over Manhattan
The last thing you want to see in New York was organized by the Department of Defense of all organizations. In April 2009, people in Manhattan were distressed to see a low-flying Boeing 747 close to the area where the World Trade Center towers were hit on 9/11 according to gothamist.com. Why did a government agency want to fly a plane there? They thought it would make for a good photo op.
Heat plus giant popsicle equals lots of sugary water
Snapple's Failed Popsicle Attempt: pic.twitter.com/FHwPpmCDzC— UberFacts (@UberFacts) July 16, 2013
Who at Snapple had the great idea of trying to make the world’s largest popsicle on a warm June day in 2005? A 25-foot-tall, 17.5 ton frozen Snapple popsicle began melting in New York City’s Union Square when promoters forgot a basic rule of science: Heat makes ice melt. Needless to say the record attempt was not successful and a spike in diabetic sewer critters began that day.
Cartoon shuts down part of Boston
(Screengrab from YouTube)
To promote the upcoming Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie in 2007, the Cartoon Network hid metal LED signs depicting the show’s characters around Boston. Apparently not everyone is a fan of the show because according to abcnews.org, residents were calling police to report the unknown devices. Turner broadcasting ended up paying $2 million in damages for the stunt.
Acclaim offers to pay speeding tickets
Video game developer Acclaim Entertainment offered to pay the speeding tickets for British drivers on Oct. 11, 2002 the day its PlayStation 2 game Burnout 2: Point Of Impact was being released in the UK. Government officials were not amused at the promise, states geek.com, and the idea never came to fruition.
(QMI Agency file photo)