In 2017, resolve to flip things around…
Marketing experts are behind many brilliant ideas… some of the time. Other times not so much. Legendary missteps include Bic’s unfortunate foray into disposal underwear for women. Purple Heinz ketchup (that colour of goop looks gross on fries). Colgate’s brand extension into Kitchen Entrées – what? Or McDonald’s 5-minute McPizza.
I have not been immune to this phenomenon. Back in the 1980s when I was just getting into my career, the agency I happened to be working at was contracted to promote NHL approved soap. The creative we produced was top notch and convincing – the product itself, not so much. The black hockey-puck shaped soaps, embedded with collectable team logos, came with a popular collector’s album so young hockey fans could rip out the logo’d coins before washing up. And what could be cooler than washing with black soap? Moms however, weren’t as impressed when it became apparent white sinks in bathrooms everywhere were being sullied with a dark residue. Oops, someone didn’t do enough testing. Instead of packing it in, the same company decided to develop MLB approved soap. Certainly there wouldn’t be the same problem with white baseball shaped soap. Alas, at the time, Canada as it turns out was not a hotbed for selling baseball trinkets.
These make for good laughs.
So how do you turn failure into fortune? Switch things around by looking at the positive side of a dubious experiment. Instead of fading away and hoping nobody will remember, why not follow the lead of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They not only laugh at their mistakes, they build equity into their failed flavours with an actual graveyard. So pepperoni pizza and anchovy swirl can still have a life beyond an unsuccessful launch. Such obvious flops are not only talked about, they add value to the company’s brand.
Famous fiascos can go right.