Dead Digital Marketing Trends That Need the XFL Treatment

I’m a fan of football. I’m also a fan of ridiculous, over-the-top antics. So, you can imagine my delight when it was announced late in January that the often-polarizing World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) owner, chairman, and CEO Vince McMahon was once again tossing his hat into the ring of professional football – announcing an attempted comeback for the XFL!

Some of you may remember McMahon’s first attempt to establish an alternate professional football league in 2001. With aims to combine the best of the NFL with the WWE, the XFL imagined a league with more action, harder hits, fewer penalties, exciting innovations, scantily-clad cheerleaders, big personalities (with player names like “Deathblow” and “He Hate Me” printed on the back of jerseys) and an overall product that would rival and eventually overtake the NFL.

Due to a laundry list of reasons, the XFL lasted only one season before folding. Before the announcement in January, ESPN premiered a great 30 for 30 documentary on it last year that I 100% recommend you check out, whether you are a sports fan or not.

McMahon seems to believe he has learned from his previous mistakes and promises a better product this time around. Will it work this time? Eh, probably not. But, I am incredibly excited and profoundly interested in watching it unfold – kind of like watching a train wreck.

And who knows: sometimes a fresh coat of paint, new perspective, and time to learn from previous mistakes is all someone needs to succeed whether it’s an individual, business, or a professional football league.

This world needs more second-chance success stories

I wish the XFL the best, and in the spirit of second chances, I got to thinking about dead digital marketing trends of yesteryear. So many trends, apps, and tools have come and gone in recent years. Some quickly became obsolete. Even more, showed initial promise before fading away. Others stumbled right out of the gate before they could even make their mark.

You don’t often see internet and digital marketing trends get a second chance (it’s a cruel and unforgiving place, the internet) but it still begs the question as to how some would fare given the opportunity for a clean slate? Some long-gone trends seem too far gone to make a comeback. But, that didn’t stop me. I thought of a couple dead digital marketing trends that have come and gone in recent years that I would love to see make a comeback.

Would these ideas actually work? Are these ideas even feasible? Who’s to say? But, it’s fun to dream, right?

QR Codes

Even though they have basically become non-existent in marketing, I still love the idea of QR Codes. Having a quick and unique way to send a person in the real world to a website or landing page is still a cool concept. However, this was a digital marketing trend that saw it’s end due to a lack of forethought and an across the board rush of everybody trying to capitalize on the trend. The lack of any native QR Code scanning app in any of the big mobile operating systems led to mass confusion and frustration on finding the best apps that weren’t burdensome and annoying. QR Code placement was also an issue as companies also put them in inconvenient locations like subway terminals (no mobile reception), billboards, and even on websites.

How QR Codes could make a comeback: Android and Apple create a standardized QR Code scanner that comes installed on every smartphone to limit distracting and poorly designed 3rd-party apps. Companies start being smarter about where they place their codes (that’s probably the most unrealistic part).


Vine was truly ahead of its time. The recently defunct video capture app captured 6-second video clips that automatically repeated, essentially making gifs with sound. Vine paved the way for Instagram Video, Facebook Live, Snapchat and the quick video craze we currently find ourselves smack dab in the middle of. So, in the midst of a video age how did Vine not survive. Unlike those that came after it who continued to innovate and create a service for individuals and businesses alike, Vine never evolved or changed – content to just be a generator of funny memes and videos. Twitter even purchased Vine in 2012 only to pull the plug 4 years later because it was ultimately unable to find a purpose for it.

How Vine could make a comeback: Create a time machine. Vine completely missed the ship because of its own ineptitude. If it had the forethought to continue to innovate and change the platform, I believe it could have succeeded, especially on Twitter where a truly a strong video component is still lacking.

Honestly, most dead digital marketing trends, like these two, are dead for a reason. But, it doesn’t hurt getting a little nostalgic and thinking “what if?” What digital marketing trends would you like to see make a comeback and how could they improve if given a second chance?

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