Overcoming failures with a bang

This weekend, people all over the UK will be celebrating Bonfire Night. But, behind the firework parties and garden bonfires is a historical event – the 1605 Gunpowder Plot.

The plot was an attempt to change the political and religious landscape of the country by blowing up the Houses of Parliament and killing the king. Guy Fawkes was the man caught guarding the deadly gunpowder that night, and his name continues to be associated with Bonfire Night and the failure of the plot - a grisly example of ‘failure’ which is celebrated throughout Britain.

Many brands aren’t lucky enough to ‘celebrate’ failure and in an ever-changing world, it’s an ongoing challenge for brands to stay relevant and successful. Some will fail whilst others will reboot after a struggle.

Here are a few popular brands that have overcome their failures with a bang, and today are celebrated for their successes, truly rising from the flames…


Apple founder Steve Jobs was “fired” by his board in 1985 for being zealous and uncontrollable. At the time there had been some poor sales for products like the Lisa computer and the company was operating at a loss. Needing a comeback, Apple re-hired Jobs and began to launch innovative products such as the iMac, iTunes and the iPhone. Apple became profitable again and the rest, as they say, is history...


After phenomenal popularity, Lego’s sales started to drop in the 1990s. Even with new innovations like the themed Star Wars and Harry Potter collections, the company was losing money. The company restructured and branched out into more traditional and competitive fields, such as Lego-themed board games, video games and movies. Lego bounced back and can once again be considered one of the world’s most successful toy companies.


Marvel was at the height of its success in the 60s, 70s and 80s, until financial difficulties and a drop in the popularity of comic books led to them filing for bankruptcy in 1996. This enabled them to pay off their debts and turn their attention to new ventures: the movie business and their very own film studio. By featuring the likes of Captain America and Doctor Strange on the big screen, Marvel has now produced some of the highest grossing movies of all time. 


Nintendo has seen many changes in marketing strategy in its 125-year history. After unsuccessfully investing in markets such as transportation and hospitality, the company achieved success through its domination of the gaming industry. When the likes of Sony and Microsoft entered the market, Nintendo saw a slump in sales, with products such as the Virtual Boy yielding disappointing results. However, 2006 saw Nintendo’s recovery with the Wii, successfully adapting its target market not only to established gamers but also to families with children. Through this product, Nintendo again rose to great heights in terms of popularity and success.


Burberry was established in 1856 and soon became a fashion brand associated with quality and luxury. Due to its wide appeal Burberry set up 23 licensees around the world, each doing something different – this resulted in reduced prices and a diversification of the product, causing a loss of brand identity and a massive decrease in sales. Burberry was revitalised in 1997 by returning to traditional and prestige garments, keeping premium pricing and shifting their marketing efforts to focus on the millennials who they saw as the luxury clients of the future. Burberry also focused on reworking their designs, embracing digital technology and social media. By developing a clear vision with new marketing strategies Burberry is known as one of the most successful British luxury fashion brands.

So, failure needn’t be the end of journey, but just a spur to re-invention and innovation. After all nothing lasts forever and we did gain something from Guy Fawkes’ failure - an excuse to let off some fireworks, have some fun and celebrate it on 5th November!

Happy Bonfire Night!     

Margot Millard
Account Executive