The arrival of a massively hyped new product on the market is always a very nervous time for the company bringing it out. While they are hoping for huge success, there is also the fear that it could turn to be an embarrassing and costly flop.
Bearing that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most highly hyped products that ended up sinking without trace once launched.
You may have forgotten all about Microsoft Zune by now but you can bet that Microsoft marketing bosses haven’t. This was supposed to be an iPod challenger that would change the way that we listen to music. Microsoft spent a fortune advertising it but people simply didn’t want a Zune. After technical problems and poor sales they brought out the improved Zune HD but the results were the same and the product was eventually left to disappear without trace.
The clear and caffeine free Crystal Pepsi was marketed as a healthier alternative to their traditional range of soft drinks. Pepsi spent $40 million on advertising it and the market research they carried out brought back extremely promising results. However, when it was finally available to buy they released that few people were interested in this drink. David C. Novak was the man behind the ill-fated drink. He has called it the best idea he ever had but the worst executed. This tale could have a happy ending, though, as Crystal Pepsi will be back on our shelves for a trial period soon.
Just as with Pepsi, the bosses at Coca Cola decided to try out a new flavour that bombed in spectacular fashion. In this case, New Coke was brought out in the mid-1980s to try and stop Pepsi from gaining ground on Coca Cola. The new taste was launched in a blaze of publicity but it soon went badly wrong. People apparently hated the taste and were very vocal about their dislike for New Coke. To this day, this example remains a great example of the dangers of bringing out changes to established products. The old formula was re-introduced after just 3 months and it turned out to be a great move for the brand, which then benefitted from far better sales than before the New Coke issue.
McDonald‘s Arch Deluxe
Another classic brand that decided to try something different was fast food chain McDonald’s. Their Arch Deluxe burger was marketed at adults as being more sophisticated than their other burgers. It was the subject of a giant marketing campaign, which has been classed as one of the most expensive failures in marketing history. A relatively high price, a large number of calories and a confusing series of ads meant that it never became popular. Some estimated state that all of the work done by McDonald’s on the Arch Deluxe cost them around $300 million. Like the previous entries on the list, people just didn’t want it. Perhaps the use of better field marketing services would have let them see the public’s tepid reaction to this burger.
Hewlett Packard TouchPad
The introduction of this iPad type device in 2011 was a disaster that Hewlett Packard is only starting to recover from. It was a powerful device that many analysts felt could give Apple a run for its money. However, the marketing campaign couldn’t stop it from being a flop right from day one. It was only sold for a very short period before being discontinued and disappearing from view. The company sent off the remaining stock cheaply rather than suffer the ignominy of a product recall.
Heinz EZ Squirty Ketchup
The idea of orange or green ketchup that you squirt onto your food might have seemed a good idea at the start but it eventually became clear that it was going to be a massive flop. Heinz quickly sold millions of these bottles and it looked as though they were onto a winner. However, the product was aimed pretty much exclusively at kids, who quickly became bored with the novelty aspect of the different colours. Sales plummeted after just a few months and the product line was soon discontinued.
For a while it appeared as though the future of urban transport would be Segways, then it didn’t. Problems with the cost and with them appearing functional rather than exciting put paid to any chance of them taking off. This is another product that was heavily hyped but that no one actually seemed to want or need except for at tourist destinations maybe.