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10 Biggest Business Mistakes in 2020

12 December 2020

2020 Has Been a Drastic Year for Businesses All Over the World, and These 10 Mistakes Definitely Didn’t Help.

Welcome back Aluxers. As if 2020 didn’t have enough sh*t, these companies piled it on even further by making some pretty serious blunders this year.

Today we highlight just 10 faux pas from businesses and companies that didn’t quite think things through and how their mistakes led to criticism and embarrassment.

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1

Tutoroo

Tutoroo is a tutoring website based in Singapore. The site gives people the opportunity to connect with tutors in their city or online to learn another language.

So, how did this company make a serious mistake? They released an advert promoting their online tutoring services. Doesn’t sound bad, does it? Except they featured a British man trying to get the phone number from a Chinese lady. When she gives him the number she says, Sex Sex Sex, Free Sex To Night… He is confused and she punches the numbers into his phone. 666 3629.

They received a lot of backlash for stereotyping the Asian accent, and despite the backlash, they refused to apologize or remove the advert.

2

Uber

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash spent a whopping $200 million to endorse and get people to vote in favour of Proposition 22, which would exempt drivers from the state law requiring them to be considered as employees.

58% of people voted in favour of Proposition 22, but while trying to get that majority yes vote, Uber sent push notifications to passengers which they had to read and confirm before they could order their ride.

The message read, “Say Yes on Prop 22, Will you? This ad is paid for by Uber Technologies, Inc.” The message also said that if passengers don’t vote yes, they would increase wait times and prices would rise. Passengers were less than impressed with the aggressive nature of the communication and pointed out that it broke the Apple App Store rules.

Want some insight into the Uber vs Lyft business rivalry? Read Uber vs Lyft: Who’s the KING of Ridesharing?

3

Burger King

Veganuary is an NPO in the UK that promotes veganism and aims to get people to follow a vegan lifestyle. They’ve dubbed January Veganuary, to encourage others to follow a vegan lifestyle for just a month.

Great idea, and Burger King hopped on board with their plant-based burger. One problem. They were grilling the patties on the same grill they were doing their meat patties. Whoops. To add further insult, the burgers were served with mayonnaise containing eggs.

A spokesperson for the Vegan Society called the launch a “missed opportunity”.

4

Sports Direct

So, while the world was shutting shop – Sports Direct boss, Mike Ashley, deemed his stores to be an essential service. His reasoning was that while people couldn’t get to the gyms, they could at least train at home.

This would have put his own staff at the frontline and the public and staff were quick to call him out for it.

He has since apologized, saying his decision was “ill-judged and poorly timed” and said he would “learn from his mistakes”. He continued by saying, “I am deeply apologetic about the misunderstandings of the last few days. We will learn from this and will try not to make the same mistakes in the future.”

Unfortunately, recent reports have highlighted that the Sports Direct Warehouse doesn’t have hand sanitising stations, masks or gloves available to their staff. Frasers Group said they did go and investigate the allegations at the Shirebrook site, and all was in accordance with the government regulations. SO, who’s fooling who?

5

Diamond Mist

It’s not uncommon to have a celebrity endorse a product, but you certainly pay for the service. So, what’s the next best thing? Diamond Mist, suppliers of e-liquids,e-cigarettes, and similar products, decided to use a celeb lookalike and pretend the celeb endorsed their products.

The vaping company released a series of adverts using a Mo Farah lookalike, with the slogan, “‘Mo’s Mad for Menthol,” and it wasn’t long before the real Mo Farah found out.

He took to Twitter to reassure fans that he was in no way in partnership with the brand and was suing the brand for using a lookalike and his name. The Advertising Standards Authority banned the advert.

It might have cost Diamond Mist less if they had just approached Mo Farah and asked him to be their brand ambassador.

6

Richards Group

Founder of the Dallas based advertising company, The Richard’s Group, resigned in 2020 after he made racist remarks.

The firm is the largest independently owned advertising agency in the country and are known for creating the famous slogan, “We’ll leave the light on for you” for Motel 6 in 1986.

So, back to the racist remarks. Founder, Stan Richards, claimed that a proposal advert for Motel 6 was “too black” for the “white supremacist constituents,” of the hotel’s chain.

Several groups cut ties with the company, including Keurig Dr Pepper, H-E-B, Cracker Barrel, Home Depot and the Salvation Army.

Since then, the company sent out a statement saying the following: “Our brand has been tarnished,” “We understand and regret the pain and concerns of all those who were deeply troubled by the words our founder spoke.”

In Richards statement he added, “If this was a publicly held company, I’d be fired for the comments I made. But we’re not public, so I am firing myself.”

The Richard’s Group has since implemented 6 diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, as well as bias training for all employees and a promise to keep track of their progress and efforts.

7

Boeing

It was a rough start for Boeing in 2020, as they were still dealing with the 737 Max crisis of 2019.

The craft was said to have more fuel-efficient engines, a longer range, cheaper operating costs, updated avionics and cabins and similar insides, so pilots could easily adjust to the new craft.

On the 29th of October, a Max plane – Lion Air Flight 610 – took off from Jakarta. On the planes previous trip, it had given the wrong speed and altitude readings, but was deemed ready to fly despite that.

12 minutes later, the plane crashed into the Java Sea. 189 people died. Fast-forward a few months, the same things happened to Ethiopian Airlines flight 302. All 157 people on-board were killed. The company denied any safety concerns.

Internal emails were revealed to show that executives ‘mocked their regulator and joked about safety’ and in their annual reputation report for 2020, they scored a minus 71… 0 being neutral. Only in June of 2020 did the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Steve Dickson, that mistakes were made developing the 737 Max jet.

8

Wetherspoons

It was a PR nightmare for Wetherspoons, when their chairman, Tim Martin, managed to say the wrong thing several times.

We can’t deny that Covid has caused a lot of uncertainty and anxiety, but when you tell your 43,000 employees that they’re not going to get any payment until the governments furlough scheme began, in other words, they’d have zero income for around 2 months, that’s pretty heartless.

He also insisted that his bars stay open during the crisis, really not giving a sh*t about his staff’s safety and then saying that if they weren’t happy with the situation, they could just go work at Tescos.

It certainly leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, unlike their signature baked potatoes.

9

McDonalds

“Waste of time” and “disappointing” were words to describe this fail by McDonalds in the beginning of 2020. McDonalds offered customers a free breakfast McMuffin if they visited participating McDonalds before 11am.

Somehow, they encountered a technical glitch, and the customers couldn’t get their promised free meal because the app code wouldn’t register.

What aggravated the situation was the lack of apology from the chain.

10

Oh Polly

What was meant to be a good deed, turned sour for fashion brand, Oh Polly. To show appreciation for NHS frontline workers, they ran a competition for them with the first prize being a care package, a new outfit and an invite to a virtual party.

A Glasgow nurse won the prize but couldn’t attend the virtual event because she was working a 12-hour shift. Oh Polly then told her that because she couldn’t attend the event, she couldn’t claim the prize.

Ouch, talk about a great idea totally backfiring. They did apologize for their mistake, but at that stage the damage was already done.

Question

Aluxers, which of these business mistakes do you find the most offensive? Share your thoughts with us!