What Not to Do

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Five food marketing flops

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

ooopsThis blog is dedicated to helping brands succeed. It has provided the kind of insight and information marketers need to effectively connect their products with the appropriate audience. Now we’re going to flip that concept on its head and explore a few notable failures. After all, with the possible exception of discovering how good it feels to knock one out of the park, no one has ever learned much by succeeding. Failure, however, is a marvelous teacher. Here are a few instances were someone should have walked away with a PhD in I’ll never do that again.

Colgate Kitchen Entrees

In 1982 Colgate, the brand well known for toothpaste, launched a line of frozen food products. Why food? The reason for this is puzzling. People do brush their teeth after eating. Maybe they wanted to get in on the beginning of the dental hygiene process. Unfortunately for Colgate, this logic didn’t make sense to consumers either. The line extension only created confusion.

The key takeaway is that even strong brand recognition cannot save a product if it strays too far from the brand’s core values. Market research helps. Well-executed research is invaluable for uncovering whether consumers can make sense of a new product.

Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water

Close, but no cigar. At least when Colorado-based brewery Coors launched a new product it was a beverage. Unfortunately it was water. This is another instance where a number of things seemed right. Bottled water is a viable market. The product could have benefitted from the company’s bottling and distribution capabilities. And Coors has long boasted that the quality of their lager is due in large part to the quality of the Rocky Mountain spring water used. The problem is that they marketed it under the Coors brand. When consumers think Coors they think barley malt, corn, yeast and hops – as well as water.

Cocaine Energy Drink

What’s in a name? In this case a red flag. After getting the attention of the FDA, Cocaine Energy Drink was charged with “illegally marketing their drink as an alternative to street drugs.” In the world of high-energy drinks, Cocaine has more than three times the amount of caffeine as Red Bull. This product is just asking for trouble and, apparently, that’s their marketing strategy.

Cocaine Energy Drink’s David and Goliath approach smacks of a wild-eyed challenger brand looking to make its mark. Despite being pulled from shelves, the drink is still available in Europe and Redux Beverages, the drink’s makers, have no plans to cease production anytime soon. However, it’s hard enough to carry a business forward. It’s nearly impossible with the full weight of the FDA on your back.

McAfrica and the McDLT from McDonald’s

It’s important to consider the world you’re launching your products into. In the case of McDonald’s McAfrica, a sandwich meant to commemorate the 2002 Olympics, it was a case of bad taste. Not that the sandwich tasted bad. Launched in the wealthy northern European country of Norway while a large section of Africa was suffering famine, the name McAfrica ignited a PR firestorm.

With the McDonald’s McDLT the issue was the packaging. Served in a double-sided Styrofoam container designed to separate the lettuce and tomato from the burger – keeping the vegetable portion cool and the beef patty warm – the McDLT met resistance over the environmental impact of the excessive packaging.

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