2 Marketing Lessons to Learn from UO’s Recent Fail

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you and every other American has been trying to get their hands on the Nintendo NES Classic. If you’re completely unfamiliar with what I am referencing, it is basically a mini version of the Nintendo gaming system that you or your children most likely obsessed over in the 90’s. When Nintendo released the mini version of the console it sold out within minutes. Reliable gaming places all over the world such as, GameStop and even retail places like Target, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us weren’t able to keep them in stock.

However, when there was a restock in the most unlikely of place, Urban Outfitters, most people rejoiced at their chance to snag a console. The clothing corporation released an image on their Instagram account counting down until today, December 6, 2016, revealing that it would sell Nintendo NES’s.

Another image was released the night before telling patrons that the system would be “available online tomorrow morning…”

Everything went haywire. Needless to say most people stayed up all night waiting for the Nintendo to show up on UO’s website. Unfortunately, it never made an appearance. A link was released on Twitter at 9:30 a.m. and within minutes it was sold out. People everywhere are livid; firing off tweets at lightning speed and UO’s follower count and potential sales rapidly declined.

I took this social media debacle and branding/marketing fail and turned it into a lesson.

Here’s what I learned from UO’s  epic fail:

Be transparent. 90% of UO’s problem was that it was not transparent with it’s customers. If they had narrowed down a time instead of simply stating, “in the morning” a lot more patrons would have been satisfied because then if they missed the sale of the Nintendo’s it was on them. I don’t know if Urban Outfitters knows this, but the morning lasts from literally midnight until 11:59 AM. That’s twelve whole hours when the Nintendo could have potentially been on sale. If they had simply said “mid-morning” or even “early morning” that would have narrowed it down quite considerably. Hell, even McDonald’s is more specific. We all know breakfast ends at 10:30 a.m.

I say all this to say, if you want people to trust what you say, be transparent. UO didn’t need to be specific down to the minute, but at least giving the people a solid estimate would have been sufficient.

Be consistent. Another problem was UO’s inconsistency. Like I said previously, the announcement was put on Instagram. That is were most people saw the announcement and followed UO for updates regarding the Nintendo. They even posted their updates there. Customers followed their instructions and went to the website, refreshed it time and time again throughout the early morning hours, for the direct link to be posted to their Twitter feed of all places. Customers were told the console would be sold “online”. For most people, common sense would lead them to the clothing company’s website, right? Who knew to be on the look-out for an elusive tweet that came in mid-morning? Once said link was followed, the Nintendo’s were then sold out. Can you imagine the rage? I can because I felt it. I lived it.

So, here’s your second lesson in branding/marketing: stay consistent. If you post something to Instagram, you have two options. Leave it solely on Instagram or post it to every social media account you have. Do not post updates in several different places. All that does is frustrate your consumer and result in a loss of brand loyalty and ultimately, sales.

In closing, Urban Outfitters did a terrible job this week and this morning with rolling out the sale of the highly elusive Nintendo NES. One small change could have softened the blow. Most people knew there was a fat chance at obtaining the NES, but we tried anyway. If Urban Outfitters had any decency, it would apologize to their consumers for their lack of consistency and transparency.

So, if you’re having a bad day today, remember you’re not Urban Outfitters mentions.

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