So Burger King is now going to sell Hot Dogs. This seems like its probably a pretty stupid idea because when well known companies try to do something that isn't their core competency it always seems to fail. So that inspired me to review some of the greatest product failures in history.
Life Savers–flavored soda seemed like a good idea. The drink, developed in the 1980s, actually fared well in taste tests. But it tanked once in stores. Explained one brand critic, quoted in the book Brand Failures: "The Life Savers name gave consumers the impression they would be drinking liquid candy."
Cocaine is a highly caffeinated energy drink distributed by Redux Beverages. It contains more caffeine than rival energy drinks Red Bull and Rockstar, symbolized by three and a half steer heads on the label. Aside from caffeine, the label claims 750 milligrams of taurine, another common ingredient found in many energy drinks.
Cocaine was pulled from U.S. shelves as a result of the FDA's decision that Cocaine "was illegally marketing the drink as both a street drug alternative and a dietary supplement."
In the 1990s Harley Davidson tried to expand its horizons by offering perfume. Perfume? WTF? Hopefully some outlaw biker gang took care of whoever was responsible for this perplexing decision.
The VHS format's defeat of the Betamax format became a classic marketing failure case study. Sony's attempt to dictate an industry standard backfired when JVC made the tactical decision to forgo Sony's offer of Betamax in favor of developing its own technology. JVC felt that accepting Sony's offer would yield results similar to the U-Matic deal, with Sony dominating.
By 1980, JVC's VHS format controlled 60% of the North American market. The large economy of scale allowed VHS units to be introduced to the European market at a far lower cost than the rarer Betamax units. In the United Kingdom, Betamax held a 25% market share in 1981, but by 1986, it was down to 7.5% and continued to decline further. By 1984, 40 companies made VHS format equipment in comparison with Beta's 12. Sony finally conceded defeat in 1988 when it, too, began producing VHS recorders (early models were made by Hitachi), though it still continued to produce Betamax recorders until 2002.
In October 1976, the first prototype DeLorean DMC-12 was completed by American automotive chief engineer William T. Collins, formerly chief engineer at Pontiac. The chassis was initially planned to be produced from a new and untested manufacturing technology known as elastic reservoir moulding (ERM), which would lighten the car while presumably lowering its production costs. This new technology, for which DeLorean had purchased patent rights, was eventually found to be unsuitable.
These and other changes to the original concept led to considerable schedule pressures. The entire car was deemed to require almost complete re-engineering, which was turned over to engineer Colin Chapman, founder and owner of Lotus Cars. Chapman replaced most of the unproven material and manufacturing techniques with those then employed by Lotus.
DeLorean required $175 million to develop and build the motor company. Convincing Hollywood celebrities such as Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis, Jr. to invest in the firm, DeLorean eventually built the DMC-12 in a factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, a neighborhood a few miles from Belfast city center. The company had originally intended to build the factory in Puerto Rico but changed its plans when the Northern Ireland Development Agency offered £100 million towards it, despite an assessment by consultants hired by the NIDA that the business had only a 1-in-10 chance of success. Construction on the factory began in October 1978, and although production of the DMC-12 was scheduled to start in 1979, engineering problems and budget overruns delayed production until early 1981.
The DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in late 1982 following John DeLorean's arrest in October of that year on drug trafficking charges. He was later found not guilty, but it was too late for the DMC-12 to remain in production. Approximately 100 partially assembled DMCs on the production line were completed by Consolidated International (now known as Big Lots). The remaining parts from the factory stock, the parts from the US Warranty Parts Center, as well as parts from the original suppliers that had not yet been delivered to the factory were all shipped to Columbus, Ohio in 1983–1984. A company called KAPAC sold these parts to retail and wholesale customers via mail order. In 1997, DeLorean Motor Company of Texas acquired this inventory. There has also been a long-standing rumor that the body stamping dies were dumped into the ocean to prevent later manufacture. More recently, evidence emerged that the dies were used as anchors for nets at a fish farm in Ards Bay, Connemara, Ireland.
The Edsel was an automobile marque that was planned, developed, and manufactured by the Ford Motor Company during the 1958, 1959, and 1960 model years. With the Edsel, Ford had expected to make significant inroads into the market share of both General Motors and Chrysler and close the gap between itself and GM in the domestic American automotive market. But contrary to Ford's internal plans and projections, the Edsel never gained popularity with contemporary American car buyers and sold poorly. The Ford Motor Company lost millions of dollars on the Edsel's development, manufacturing and marketing. The very word "Edsel" became a popular symbol for a commercial failure.
Ford announced the end of the Edsel program on Thursday, November 19, 1959. However, production continued until late in November, with the final tally of 2,846 model year 1960 cars. Total Edsel sales were approximately 116,000, less than half the company's projected break-even point. The company lost $350 million, or the equivalent of $2,800,000,000 in 2016 dollars, on the venture. Only 118,287 Edsels were built, including 7,440 produced in Ontario, Canada. By U.S. auto industry standards, these production figures were dismal, particularly when spread across a run of three model years.
Historians have advanced several theories in an effort to explain the Edsel's failure. Popular culture often faults the car’s styling. Consumer Reports has alleged that poor workmanship was the Edsel's chief problem. Marketing experts hold the Edsel up as a supreme example of the corporate culture’s failure to understand American consumers. Business analysts cite the weak internal support for the product inside Ford’s executive offices. According to author and Edsel scholar Jan Deutsch, the Edsel was "the wrong car at the wrong time."
The Edsel is most notorious for being a marketing disaster. Indeed, the name "Edsel" became synonymous with the "real-life" commercial failure of the predicted "perfect" product or product idea. Similar ill-fated products have often been colloquially referred to as "Edsels". . Since the Edsel program was such a debacle, it gave marketers a vivid illustration of how not to market a product. The principal reason the Edsel's failure is so infamous is that Ford had absolutely no idea that the failure was going to happen until after the vehicles had been designed and built, the dealerships established and $400 million invested in the product's development and launch. Incredibly, Ford had presumed to invest $400 million (well over $4.0 billion in the 21st century) in developing a new product line without attempting to determine whether such an investment would be wise or prudent.