Hoover Destroys its Entire Reputation with a Promo
This next story isn’t a mistake in print in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s a severe underestimation of customers and their desire to save. It’s a tale of how one business overcame the odds only to advertise a promotion that would cost it everything. This is the Hoover Free Flight Fiasco.
It’s 1992, and the UK branch of Hoover needs a way to sell more vacuums. Hoover is already a distinguished brand and household name in England, but profits are no longer looking so hot. In part, this is because potential customers are still struggling with the effects of a recession. It’s a tough market.
That’s when traveling agency JSI Travel approaches Hoover. Times are tough, and they need a partner to get rid of cheap flights. JSI Travel successfully pitches the sales idea. They agree to sell flights to Hoover. In turn, Hoover will offer these flights to customers who purchase its products at a certain price point.
A new promotion is born. If you spend more than £100 on a qualifying Hoover product, you’ll receive two, round-trip tickets to a destination in Europe.
There’s only one catch.
If all qualifying customers redeem this promotion, Hoover isn’t going to be in good shape.
Make the process as annoying, time-consuming, and time-sensitive as possible.
At first, everything works without a hitch. However, Hoover didn’t go down in college marketing textbooks for its temporary success. Things take a turn when Hoover adds America to the list of available destinations against the recommendation of risk management professionals, who warned this would be a disaster.
It was a disaster.
As far as mistakes in print go, advertising a promotion that can’t be fulfilled without going under is high on the list. While thousands of vacuums sold, many customers were making only the minimum purchase required for the tickets. Hoover expected more customers to splurge on higher-end vacuums. During the first round of the promotion without America, they were already in trouble in everyone redeemed tickets. With the upgraded promotion and a huge amount of customers buying and redeeming tickets, Hoover was going to pay more for the promotion than they would make.
Hoover’s plan? Make the redemption process even worse and employ downright shoddy business practices, like mysteriously losing submissions in the mail. Queue thousands of angry, irate, and upset customers who were having trouble redeeming their tickets.
Ultimately, the flights cost Hoover £50 million (about $125 million today) and only brought in £30 million in gross revenue.
Lesson #3 – Know What You’re Selling
The moral of this story is to always check your math before running promotions or limited time offers. Don’t advertise something you can’t fulfill. You should also remember that customers may react in ways you don’t expect. Attract business with your flyer, postcard, or poster, but make sure you know the risks and include any fine print you need so you see an ROI from what you’re doing.
Don’t Let Mistakes in Print Haunt You – Contact Center City Print
Now that you know what can go wrong in print, discover what can go right with Center City Print. Our team has years of experience in all types of print products, from trade show displays and t-shirts to posters, stickers, and brochures. We also offer design services that save you time and result in professional products you’ll love to send out or display. Call or visit us today!