In 1987, Corona sales plummeted when a rumor spread that their workers were peeing in their beer. The company traced its origins back to Heineken, whom Corona sued for $3 million in damages, but their reputation still suffered and their product was referred to as “Mexican piss water” for years.
On May 30, 1883, a rumor that the Brooklyn Bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede, which killed at least twelve people. To prove the bridge was safe, P. T. Barnum led a parade of 21 elephants over it.
African soldiers fighting against the Japanese in Burma during WWII appropriated and manipulated the rumors that they were cannibals. To demonstrate this, soldiers pretended to eat the ‘meat’ of fallen soldiers so that remaining survivors would flee in fear.