Add Build-a-Bear to the list of companies whose great idea for a promotion went horribly wrong.
On Thursday, the toy company held a promotion called Pay Your Age Day, where customers could purchase a plush toy for a price equal to their child’s age.
However, Build-a-Bear had to cancel the sale because of safety concerns after hundreds of parents waited in line for hours hoping to snag a toy. The company is now offering vouchers to those who had to wait.
This is not the first time a company has attempted a promotion or giveaway only to see it end badly. Here are three more examples:
During the 1984 Olympics, the fast food giant ran a promotional campaign featuring scratch-off tickets. Consumers would scratch off a gold medal uncovering an Olympic event. If the U.S. won a medal in that event, the consumer would get either a free Big Mac, regular fries or a soft drink.
What McDonald’s did not expect is the former Soviet Union boycotting the Games, leaving the U.S. without a major rival. The U.S. won 174 medals, including 83 gold. According to the Los Angeles Times, some McDonald’s in the San Francisco Bay Area were running out of hamburger buns.
In 2003, the seafood chain launched an “Endless Crab” promotion, where customers could spend $22.99 on all-you-can-eat crab legs. The promotion cost Red Lobster a lot of money as they underestimated American stomachs. “It wasn’t the second helping, it was the third that hurt,” said Joe Lee, then the CEO of Red Lobster parent company Darden said on a conference call with investors in 2003. “And the fourth,” chimed Darden president Dick Rivera, who ended up replacing then Red Lobster president Edna Morris because of the promotion. It also didn’t help that crab prices were on the rise when the deal launched.
In 2008, the soda maker took what they thought was a safe bet: If rock band Guns ‘N Roses released its long-awaited album “Chinese Democracy” by the end of the year, it would give every American a free can of soda. After years of waiting, Guns ‘N Roses finally followed through. As The New York Times reports, fans had 24 hours to go to Dr. Pepper’s website to redeem a coupon for the free drink, but so many users visited the site at once it crashed. It prompted stern words from frontman Axl Rose urging Dr. Pepper to keep its promise. “We never thought this day would come,” said Tony Jacobs, a Dr. Pepper marketing executive, in a 2008 statement.
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.