As ice hockey legend, Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky once said, “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” It’s an inspirational quote regarding failure versus success, but the difference between the 4-time Stanley Cup champion and an average Joe is that when Gretzky missed, he wasn’t too far off the mark. Some people might end up breaking a window when they miss a shot. Have we carried this metaphor too far already?
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The following examples of product failures demonstrate three times when companies would have been better off passing, or at least not shooting at all:
We’re pretty sure Crystal Pepsi was one of those instances where an advertising writer came up with a great slogan before the actual product was conceived. Crystal Pepsi was the “clear alternative” to normal colas, which was a super clever tagline because the soda was transparent in appearance, kind of like Sprite. Get it? Clear alternative?
But many consumers were confused or disappointed with the taste of Crystal Pepsi, stating that they expected the beverage to be lemon-lime flavored, kind of like Sprite. Others simply said the flavor was flat-out gross. Ultimately, Pepsi canned the brand in 1993. To clarify, we mean they stopped selling it. The word “canned” is probably ambiguous in this context since we’re talking about soft drinks.
In a 2007 interview, David Novak, the man behind the concept of Crystal Pepsi, speculated “it would have been nice if I’d made sure the product tasted good.” Recently, the product was revived for a limited time, but nobody knows why.
Sometimes being ahead of your time is a bad thing. For example, imagine if your contact lenses could capture video and replay the images onto a projector, but the year was 1692, and you were living in colonial Massachusetts. They’d think you were a witch, and you’d be burned at the stake for sure, but at least your trial would get a few million views on YouTube when the footage went viral.
In a sense, the Sega Dreamcast shared a similar fate. Like, metaphorically.
The Dreamcast was Sega’s next-generation video gaming console after the Sega Genesis, and it boasted a handful of radical new features that would soon revolutionize the gaming industry. The Dreamcast had a built-in modem for online play, and even released a broadband adapter after its initial release in 1999. Sega anticipated that online play would be the next big breakthrough for gaming, and they were right. Unfortunately, their timing was a bit too early, since broadband connections weren’t even available in many areas of the United States back in 1999. This oversight rendered one of the Dreamcast’s unique features virtually obsolete.
These additional (and unnecessary) features contributed to high production costs, which, along with numerous other financial and marketing problems, eventually caused the product to discontinue early. The Dreamcast is just another one of many, many commercial failures in the video game industry.
Premier “Smokeless” Cigarettes
Back in 1988, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company developed a “smokeless” cigarette under the brand name Premier, presumably designed to reduce secondhand smoke and decrease health risks associated with smoking. Of course, the company never explicitly stated that the Premier cigarette was in any way healthier than normal cigarettes, because that would have required the company to admit smoking normal cigarettes was unhealthy.
Because R.J. was unwilling to discern the health benefits of choosing their smokeless cigarette over other alternatives, public perception suffered. Furthermore, users complained of the brand’s foul flavor, claiming that Premier cigarettes tasted “like burning plastic,” and the aluminum “flavor capsule” made the product too hot to hold during use.
On the bright side, we’d like to think that a terrible experience with Premier Smokeless cigarettes probably discouraged some people from ever smoking again.
Come to think of it, none of these companies ever partnered with MEDiAHEAD, which may have been the reason they failed so miserably. Are you looking to create a solid marketing strategy for a product launch or a new business? Contact MEDiAHEAD today to get started on a new direct mail campaign!