Sunscreen Giveaway Gone Awry: A Lesson in Failing Fast and Early

Back in my 20s, when I was just starting out in marketing, I was tasked with a giveaway for a college baseball team. Picture this: sweltering May sun, cheering fans, and free sunscreen packets to keep everyone sunburn-free – a brilliant idea, right? Well, that’s what I thought… until I learned the importance of failing fast and early.


Here’s where it all went hilariously wrong – I didn’t request to see a prototype of the sunscreen packets we planned to give away. 


Rookie mistake! 


Instead, I relied on a picture, assuming everything was good. 🤦🏼‍♀️


A week before the giveaway, I walked into the office to find my desk buried under a mountain of tiny square foil packets. My initial shock turned into sheer embarrassment as I realized they looked EXACTLY like condoms. 😳 Yep, you read that right – we were about to hand out sunscreen packets that could easily be mistaken for, well, something else!


With Mother’s Day weekend looming and thousands of families expected at the game, we couldn’t let this giveaway go ahead. I turned to my boss, expecting him to bail me out, but he surprised me with a good chuckle and a life-changing lesson: “You made the mistake, now fix it.”


So, we put on our thinking caps and quickly found an alternative giveaway for the baseball game. But what the heck were we going to do with all these condom-esque sunscreen packets? We decided to donate them to dermatologists’ offices. Win-win!


This experience taught me two invaluable lessons:

🌱 First, failing fast and early is vital in marketing. Had I seen the prototype beforehand, we could have averted this awkward debacle. 

🌱 Second, always, always, ask to see a prototype – it’s your safeguard against unexpected surprises.


If you want to hear the entire story and more marketing tips, take a listen to the podcast episode here!

Let’s Grow! 🌱


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