Q&A: What Risky Marketing Campaign Did NOT Pay Off?
Well, there was that one time that an identity protection company dared people to steal its CEO’s identity…It went about as well as you’d expect.
You may remember a marketing campaign from 2007 for LifeLock personal security that featured LifeLock’s CEO, Todd Davis, and, more importantly, Davis’s social security number.
LifeLock’s intention was to prove that their services were so effective that it was impossible to steal someone else’s personal identity if they were a LifeLock customer.
Unfortunately (and predictably), they couldn’t deliver on that promise. In June 2007, Davis discovered that someone had used his identity to take out a $500 loan. It wasn’t until the loan provider called his wife’s cellphone to recover the debt that Davis realized his identity had been stolen. It seems that LifeLock oversold its abilities.
Within the next 3 years, Davis’s identity was stolen at least 13 times.
Not only was this a failure from a marketing perspective and a personal headache for Davis, the ordeal also opened the company up to legal issues. In 2010, LifeLock was fined $12 million dollars for deceptive advertising. The FTC Chair at the time, Jon Leibowitz, said, “In truth, the protection they provided left such a large hole … that you could drive that truck through it,” referring to the truck LifeLock used to display Davis’s SSN as it drove through city streets. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Hopefully Davis learned a valuable lesson about safeguarding his personal identity. As for the rest of us, I think the main takeaway of this incident, from a marketing standpoint, is to avoid making claims that you cannot, without a shadow of a doubt, deliver to your consumers. After all, trust is hard to build and easy to break.