Sometimes good companies make very bad decisions. Twenty-five years ago, Coke unleashed what would become a classic lesson in business schools for what not to do: the launch of New Coke. In 1985, the company tried to replace its century-old cola formula by marketing this newer version in order to compete with Pepsi. Consumers protested, lighting up the switchboards at Coca-Cola. That was the end of New Coke, and the tried and true formula returned to the shelves.
Companies continue to make bad products they think people will buy. In recent years, there's been Bud Light Lime, with its citrus taste that overpowers any beer flavor. Consumer Reports dubbed it one of the worst products of 2009. And it also earned the Facebook page: Bud Light Lime Sucks. Then another company thought Spinlash Mascara--a mechanical, spinning mascara brush--was a good idea. Consumers found it to be messy, causing clumps when it claimed to get rid of them. Consumer Reports agreed, ranking it a worst product of 2009.
Only time will tell if these products go down in history with the classic flops. If they do, they would be in good company. In 1957, Ford only sold 64,000 Edsels, a car with a front grill folks compared to "an oldsmobile sucking a lemon." Sony's Betamax video recorder hit stores in 1975, and within a year, major competitors jumped aboard the VHS bandwagon, a rival format to Betamax, which ultimately lost the technology war. McDonald's Arch Deluxe was going to put the "gold" into golden arches by being a high-end hamburger. Debuted in 1996, consumers weren't lovin' it, preferring price and convenience over fancy marketing.
WalletPop rounded-up the top 10 failed products of all time, (a list that unfortunately will always have to be updated). Some of these product concepts may work in the movies or in an alternative reality, but in our world, they just didn't make the grade. If there's a product out there on the shelves now that you can't stand, please let WalletPop know in the comments section. From Bottled Water for Pets to Ben-Gay aspirin, there's no shortage of products that we bet these companies wish never happened.
No. 10: Cosmopolitan Yogurt
Cosmopolitan has 58 international editions, is published in 36 languages and is distributed in more than 100 countries, making it one of the most dynamic brands on the planet. You could say it's got this "magazine thing" down pat. All the more reason why it should stick to what it does best. One thing Cosmo does not do best is brand and sell yogurt. Yes, yogurt. From the time of its release, the yogurt was supposedly off of the shelves in 18 months.
No. 9: Microsoft WebTV
WebTV (now MSN TV) offered consumers Internet connection via their television sets in the mid-1990s. A Cable World article by Andrea Figler describes it this way: The service grew quickly at first, attracting mainstream users that typically shied away from technology. But to WebTV's dismay, they became the dreaded consumer: a customer who failed to produce new revenue streams but insisted on creating expensive customer service problems. So Microsoft which bought WebTV in 1997, scrapped the brand. It never passed the one-million-subscriber mark.
No. 8: RJ Reynolds'
In 1988, when even second-hand smoke was deemed a serious health risk, the company behind brands like Camel decided to launch Premier, a line of smokeless cigarettes. Reporter Magazine said that smoking the Premier "produced a smell and a flavor that left users retching." The taste, combined with the rumor that the cigarette could be used as a delivery device for crack cocaine, pretty much guaranteed the product's failure.
No. 7: Colgate Kitchen Entrees
The Brand Failures blog explains: In what must be one of the most bizarre brand extensions ever Colgate decided to use its name on a range of food products called Colgate's Kitchen Entrees. Needless to say, the products did not take off and never left U.S. soil. The idea must have been that consumers would eat their Colgate meal, then brush their teeth with Colgate toothpaste. The trouble was that for most people the name Colgate does not exactly get their taste buds tingling.
No. 6: Ben-Gay Aspirin
Ben-Gay cream is great for topically relieving aches and pains. But the idea of swallowing Ben-Gay? Not so appealing. That was the problem the company faced when they tried to launch an aspirin. Their first brand extension, Ultra-Strength Ben-Gay, was essentially the same product as the original and was very successful. The aspirin? Not so much.
No. 5: Earring Magic Ken
Barbie and her companions have gone through many incarnations since her creation in 1959, but none is more infamous than "Earring Magic Ken." Exit classy tuxedos and suits and enter mesh t-shirt, purple leather vest, and earring. Pretty soon "New Ken" was dubbed "Gay Ken." And parents were not pleased with his fashion-forward style. After an article focusing on Earring Magic Ken appeared in 'The Stranger' newspaper, Mattel discontinued production and recalled poor Ken and his earring off the shelves.
No. 4: DeLorean Car
Auto pioneer John DeLorean quit General Motors in 1973 to start his own company. His company's car was an unusual car featuring an unpainted, stainless-steel exterior and gull-wing doors. The car debuted in 1981, but when the company failed less than two years later it had produced fewer than 9,000 vehicles.
Despite horrific sales, the car gained a cult following after the release of the 1985 movie 'Back to the Future' which featured the car as a time-travel machine. Last year it was announced that the car would be returning with very limited production.
No. 3: Kellogg's Breakfast Mates
The idea behind Kellogg's Breakfast Mates was fairly simple -- pack a box of cereal with milk and a spoon, and you have a tasty meal on the go! Hey, it worked for Lunchables, right? Unfortunately, Kellogg's failed to take two things into account. First of all, though the milk included in the Cereal Mate did not require refrigeration, no one likes the idea of warm milk. And second, the ads showed parents sleeping while children helped themselves to Cereal Mates -- but the packaging was not child-friendly. The confusion associated with Breakfast Mates led to its ultimate failure.
No. 2: Bottled Water for Pets
People tend to pamper their pets, so it's not far-fetched to believe consumers might serve bottled water to their cats and dogs. At least that's what the makers of Thirsty Cat! and Thirsty Dog! must have believed. But despite the fact that the water came in such delicious flavors as Crispy Beef and Tangy Fish, it never seemed to catch on. Go figure.
No. 1: Bic Underwear
Bic has built its brand on the convenience of disposable products. Disposable razors? Disposable lighters? Convenient and affordable. Disposable underwear? Just plain weird. Other than the disposability factor, consumers could not find a link between the underwear and Bic's other products. With out a unifying factor, people were just confused. In addition, the idea of buying intimate attire from a company that also produces pens apparently does not appeal to most women.
Top 10 Failed Products: Our Roundup of Classic Flops