Halloween horror stories!

Published: 28/10/2020

It’s coming to that time of year again. The days are getting colder, and as the clocks have gone back... that can only mean one thing… Halloween is nearly here!

Halloween won’t be quite the same this year because of social distancing (boo!) but that doesn’t mean we can’t provide you with some ghoulish and terrifying business horror stories that would even make Freddie Kruger run for the hills. 

We hope these business blunders will not only shock you but will also demonstrate some lessons to be learnt. 

Just remember what you’re about to read cannot be unread, BEWARE !

1. Decca rejects the Beatles, the actual Beatles!

Pop music was pretty much created by the Beatles. The most pioneering band of the 20th century has influenced so much of what we listen to today. Now imagine being the company that turned them down!

This is exactly what happened in 1962 when Decca Records invited the Beatles for a trial but they weren’t impressed. And what’s even more staggering is that the label claimed that four-piece groups with guitars were finished. They couldn’t have been more wrong. 

We are sure there were plenty at that label who had sleepless nights about what they missed out on. This just shows you never know when a great opportunity might be staring at you in the face, even if it's a bit different to what's already out there. 

2. New Coke really happened 

We have spoken about big opportunities missed, but we will now look at what happens when unnecessary changes are made to an already successful product. 

Let’s take you back in time to 1985, the year of Live Aid and where a little known Michael Jordan became NBA rookie of the year. But bizarrely, that year also saw Coca Cola decide to change their 100-year formula to launch New Coke. 

The result: it was a complete disaster. Customers hated the taste and the company very quickly reverted back to the original formula. But the company wasted millions in the process on something that wasn’t necessary or called for. 

The lesson here: if it ain’t broke….don't fix it. Most companies can’t afford to take these kinds of hits, so be careful of unnecessary change.

3. Motorola late to the tech party 

If you grew up in the 00s you will fondly remember the slogan “hello moto” very well. That’s because Motorola were one of the biggest mobile phone companies in the world during this time.

But technology was changing at a rapid pace as new phones were coming out, such as the Iphone and Android phones, which used smart technology. Motorola took a long time to ‘get on the bandwagon’ with this changing landscape and it took them until much later to release their smartphone. So rather than being seen as innovators they were seen to be latching on to what others were doing. 

Whilst as a business owner you shouldn’t base your actions on what competitors are doing it’s very important to be on top of what is going on in your industry. If you miss something vital the competition might just overtake you.

4. And even Apple made mistakes 

By now many of us have become Apple evangelists, but even this giant company have made mistakes before, and in the case of Apple Maps, some quite real duds. 

In 2012 the company launched their own navigation tool to rival Google’s. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But the tool was fraught with complications and bugs that made things very difficult for the user. 

Complaints ranged from landmarks not showing up to people not getting to their destinations. In short, the whole thing was a complete disaster and even led to CEO Tim Cook making a public apology. 

If a company the size of Apple is capable of making a flawed product, anyone is. This is why it is important that anything you sell to the public has to be tested and retested so that it can actually deliver what you say it will do. 

5. London publishers turned down Harry Potter (seriously) 

It’s hard to remember a time BHP (before Harry Potter), such has been the staggering success from the books, films, theme parks etc. 

But believe it or not, there was a period when the largest publishers were turning their nose up at the future masterpiece. Back in the early 90s Harper Collins and Penguin were among many publishing houses to turn Harry Potter down! Yes, you read that right. 

Fortunately, a then little known company called Bloomsbury decided to take the punt and the rest, as they say, is history. Pottermania is worth tens of billions and we are sure there are people who are scratching their heads at a once in a lifetime opportunity missed. 

David Goulden

David Goulden


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