Movies bomb and TV shows wont even make it 13 weeks. But failures are not restricted to movies and TV. Sometimes a brilliant idea for a new product just doesn’t work. Usually the failure just kind of comes and goes, but once in a while the failure is big news. So much money and hype went into the product that the fact that it bombs makes the company end up looking foolish. Here are five of my favorite examples of horrible marketing ideas.
#5.The Ford Edsel
I have no use for cars. I mean, they’re great for transpotation but that’s as far as it goes for me. I don’t care about models, styles, etc. But even I know what it means when someone refers to something as an “Edsel”. Ford came out with these back in 1957, and they were expecting great things from these cars. Instead they were just terrible and nobody bought them. They were expensive with a very unappealing design, and they were not built very well. Funny, while Edsel became a term to describe a disaster, the Deloeron which also failed became a cool car thanks to a little movie it was featured in.
#4.MCI Friends & Family
Anyone remember MCI? Back in the 90’s the long distance telephone wars were all over the place. AT&T, Sprint, and MCI tried to convince us it was their compeitors rates. rather than the calls we made, which caused our phone bills to be so high. MCI came up with a brilliant idea, give them the name of your friends and family so that when you call them you will get a special rate. The problem was that MCI took the info and started asking those people to switch to MCI. Also, how often do you really call specific people for the rate benefit to really matter? Friends and Family became a joke, and while MCI tried to modify it the idea of a “calling circle” was just about as bad as MCI’s decision to merge with Worldcom.
Ah, I loved this one! Well, actually I never tried it but I loved the way it failed. In the 90’s this wonderful creation came out, clear Pepsi like 7UP I guess. The ads for these were amazing, a fantastic blend of computer-generated bus wrap printing along with the song “Right Now” by Van Halen. This was a great ad that really got your attention. To bad the product was god awful. I mean did it not occur to them that it having it clear was cool, but it has to also taste good? Except for a great SNL spoof of the ads this soda is best forgotten (unless you watch 80’s Dan). Pepsi has had lots of failed ideas. There was Pepsi Free, Pepsi AM, and Pepsi Vanilla.
#2.McDonald’s Arch Deluxe
Nothing wrong with changing your image, but you have to do it with within reason. The Arch Delux is one of the biggest disasters McDoanld’s ever had! I give them one thing, they really tried to sell this thing with a huge ad blitz! The idea was to appeal to adults and convince them these burgers were of higher sophistication then the usual. Problem is they were also more expensive, and tasted terrible. Besides that, who goes into McDonald’s wishing the burgers were more sophisticated? The reason adults go there is because they know what they are getting, and usually for something fast not “class”. This was even worst than the 80’s classic the McDLT. At least that had a little life before people realized combining the “hot side” with the “cold side” was stupid.
Oh you knew this was coming. As someone who was alive to experience the disaster that was New Coke, I can tell you that it was really fascinating. Never before, or since, has an amazing new idea so imploded on a company. It seemed like it made sense, the original formula had been around for years. Why not change it up a bit? Guess they never heard of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The marketing for this was all over the place, and I tried it when it came out. And hated it. It tasted awful! It was less than three months after New Coke came out that the company announced that it was bringing back the original formula under the name “Coke Classic”. I have always been a huge lover of Coca-Cola and am just glad they realized their mistake and quickly changed it. To bad they didn’t realize what a disaster New Coke would be before they announced it!
All five of these companies learned the same lesson-know who your audience is before you release your new product! Of course there are plenty more examples, do you remember a memorable product failure?