20 Companies That Made Terrible Decisions And Almost Ended Up Bankrupt

Published 1 year ago

Large companies usually require a lot of work and effort to maintain profitability. However, sometimes decision-makers use unethical means to make a high return on investment or they invest in promotional ideas that just don’t pan out the way they expect. 

Some of these moves have become massive PR blunders for corporations and a lesson for all others on what not to do. One particular online discussion took off when one user asked people to share stories of the worst historic mistakes organisations have made that they are aware of. We’ve gathered the worst and shared them in the gallery below for you.

More info: Reddit

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Image source: Hejke

One of Swedens biggest firms for building managing is called Locum. In the late nineties it was very cool for companies to have logos where their names were spelled in lower caps. So the logo was “locum”. One Christmas Locum took out big ads in the biggest papers wishing everyone a merry Christmas and conveying the love that they felt for Sweden. How did they decide to do this? By replacing the “o” in locum with a heart of course.

So big ads that looked like this: “l ♥ c*m”.


Image source: watchingsongsDL, Nicole Lee


Image source: hate_mail, Mr Stan Zemanek

Blockbuster refusing to buy Netflix

Here’s one happening right now: HBO is rebranding as “Max”.

HBO is a premium brand with decades of quality programming behind it.

Max is generic, vague, and makes me think of soft core p**n.


Image source: BlueRFR3100, Mike Mozart

Sears dominated the mail order industry for over a century with their catalog. In 1993, they decided that mail order was on the decline and discontinued the catalog. Less than a year later, Jeff Bezos would found Amazon.


Image source: Tim6181, youtube.com

Can’t believe the Hoover flights to America promotion from the early 90’s hasn’t come up yet. They offered a pair of return flights to America worth £600 if you spent £100 or more on their stuff. Turned out people thought £100 for a return flight with a free vacuum cleaner was a hell of a deal and it was a disaster that cost the company millions



Image source: teflonjon321

When Game of Thrones botched the most anticipated episode in the series history of one of (the?) biggest shows in history by making it in borderline pitch black. Then explaining themselves by saying people need better TVs….[https://nypost.com/2019/05/01/game-of-thrones-cinematographer-blames-dark-episode-on-bad-tv-settings/amp/](https://nypost.com/2019/05/01/game-of-thrones-cinematographer-blames-dark-episode-on-bad-tv-settings/amp/)


Image source: toocleverbyhalf, Bhopal Medical Appeal

Trying to decide which was worse: Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal India that killed 4-8k people and injured maybe 100k, or Chiquita (under a former name) overthrowing the legitimate government of Guatemala with help from the CIA.


Image source: parangolecomuna, [deleted]

Nestle convincing thousands of women in low income countries that they should wean off their babies and substitute breast milk for extremely expensive formula because breast milk wasn’t fully nutritious, but also forcing new mothers to spend 30% of their income JUST on baby formula, which made them try save it to last way longer than it should and ended up killing their kids from malnutrition.



Image source: TechyDad, Cheon Fong Liew

Blackberry thinking that they are the top in the mobile market so they didn’t need to innovate to compete with those new iPhone things from Apple.


Image source: GrumpiestOldDude, Jiri Brozovsky

Not the worst certainly but the one that makes me smile whenever I think of it.

I work for a pretty big company with offices in pretty much every country. Billions in profit every year and one of the leaders in our field. About 15 years ago there was an internal announcement that we were going to rebrand in a couple months.

A guy who I vaguely knew was already on his way out the door but before he left he grabbed the domain name that the company would definitely want to have as part of their rebranding but had not yet reserved. So a week later when they finally got around to trying to reserve it they found it occupied with a tiny website that only had a gif of a character dancing with the caption, “I got your domain!”

I have no idea what they had to pay him to get it.


Image source: xain_the_idiot, youtube.com

Supposedly years ago, there was a Pepsi slogan “Come Alive with Pepsi” that was mistranslated in Chinese as “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Dead.”


Image source: Insanegirl_throwaway, Wasforgas

One funny one that always springs to mind is the Britain’s Got Talent winner Susan Boyle releasing her first album and her management coming up with a twitter hashtag to promote it: #susanalbumparty

Sus (Su’s)

It trended number one but not because of the actual album lol


Image source: Mahovolich13, Larry Syverson

In Canada, when the Conservative Party merged with the Reform party they called themselves the Canadian Reform Alliance Party or as all Canadian comedians realized “C**P”. It was hilarious for 48 hours before the changed it. Never forget C**P


Image source: BIllyBrooks, Casey Fleser

Have you heard of the [Osborne Effect](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_effect)?

TLDR: Company in 1981 has one of the first home computers on the market, it sounds fantastic and everything. At the launch, CEO says the next version will be so much better…. So everyone decided why buy this version if the next version will be better? We’ll wait for V2.

So V1 sold terribly, company folded, there is no V2.


Image source: largemouthbase, Tiia Monto

* Coke making New Coke
* Kodak refusing to go digital believing people would stay true to film
* Toys R Us neglecting their online sales experience


Image source: Hemenucha, Alden Jewell

The Ford Pinto’s propensity to explode when rear-ended.

And Ford making the business decision not to recall because their “cost benefit analysis” showed that lawsuits for injury would be cheaper.

Also, thalidomide.


Image source: scottfpaul

Digiorno trying to make the hashtag “Why I Stayed” be about making pizza at home.


Image source: soulreaverdan, BY-SA 3.0

JC Penney tried to eliminate the tons of sales and never-ending discounts on their products by just pricing them at what they would normally be, aiming for a “fair and square” price model. Instead of marking a shirt up to $10 and then having it basically always 40% off, they just priced it at $6, for example. They also ended their prices in solid dollars instead of $0.99 intervals to make it easier to calculate.

No coupons, no sales, but the same price. People always complain about how stuff gets marked up just to get put on sale and how cheap of a gimmick it is, right?

Well turns out people actually love feeling like they’re getting a deal even if they objectively know it’s just set dressing, and JCP lost millions from the strategy and their sales dropped by around a third.


Image source: samit2heck, Brett Jordan

When U2 made us all have their album on our ipods.


Image source: Onion_Heart, EG Focus

Gerald Ratner calling his own company’s (jeweller) products “c**p” and saying that “a prawn sandwich would last longer” than their earrings at a conference. The company’s value fell by £500m and he had to resign.

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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bankruptcy, business, corporations, fails, PR nightmare
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