Here's a look at WalletPop's biggest product failures of all time. Sometimes good companies make very bad decisions. We highlight over two dozen of our favorite examples in our list of the Top 25 Biggest Product Flops of All Time. From New Coke to Ben-Gay aspirin, we take a look at product launches that we bet these companies wish never happened.
Click through our gallery as we countdown from No. 25 to No. 1, then continue on for some non-product honorable mentions.
A study commissioned by the company found brand awareness so strong that consumers said they would consider S&W not only for handguns, but for other products as well. As long as that something isn't mountain bikes. S&W had been selling bicycles designed for law enforcement, security and emergency response since 1997. So in 2002, it took another step by offering mountain bikes to consumers too. Unfortunately, while the bikes continue to be loved by public service officials, the public never caught the "fever."
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.
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.
According to Wrigley.com, chocolate maker Clarence Crane invented Life Savers in 1912 as he searched to find a sweet treat to withstand the summer heat better than his chocolate. Because of their resemblance to life preservers the brand name Life Savers was chosen. Since then, Life Savers have become the No. 1 brand across non-chocolate candy and mints. That success, however, did not translate to its fizzy drink venture. Life Savers Soda failed even though it had fared well in taste tests. According to one brand critic "the Life Savers name gave consumers the impression they would be drinking liquid candy." Next: Product Flop No. 21
The Brand Failures blog says: The shampoo failed to attract consumers (in 1979) largely because nobody liked the idea of washing their hair with yogurt. Of those who did buy it, there were even some cases of people mistakenly eating it, and getting very ill as a result. The "Touch of Yogurt" concept is made even more remarkable because three years earlier Clairol introduced a similar shampoo called the "Look of Buttermilk." This product instantly bombed in test markets where consumers were left asking: what exactly is the "look of buttermilk" and why should I want it? Next: Product Flop No. 20
If you're one of the most popular beer brands in the world, it's a pretty safe bet that even your most loyal consumers would not be interested in buying bottled water from you. Case in point -- Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water. Spring water from the Rocky Mountains is indeed used during the brewing process of some Coors products. However, when bottled alone, it's missing one key ingredient -- alcohol. Apparently Coors customers just weren't that into buying water when it wasn't enhanced by additional ingredients like barley and yeast.
Cocaine is a high-energy drink, containing three and a half times the amount of caffeine as Red Bull. It was pulled from U.S. shelves in 2007, after the FDA declared that its producers, Redux Beverages, were "illegally marketing their drink as an alternative to street drugs." The drink is still available, however, online, in Europe and even in select stores in the U.S. Despite the controversy, Redux Beverages does not plan to cease production any time soon. You know what they say -- there's no such thing as bad publicity.
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's style appeared in 'The Stranger' newspaper, Mattel discontinued production and recalled as many Kens off the shelves as they could.
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.
Arguably ahead of its time, Apple debuted this PDA device in 1993. Computerworld says it flopped partially because of its high price ($700 or more), bulkiness and the ridicule it received from talk show comedians and comic strips like 'Doonesbury' which focused on the supposed inaccuracy of the handwriting recognition.
The Newton faded away in 1998, but chartered the course for the Palm Pilot in the late 90's and the popular BlackBerry & iPhone today.
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 less 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. Next: Product Flop No. 14
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.
In the late 1980s, Pepsi came up with the brilliant plan to cater to the breakfast cola drinker, under the assumption that because Pepsi contained caffeine, it must be a natural substitute for coffee. Well, you know what they say about assumptions -- but needless to say, Pepsi AM was not successful, and neither was Pepsi's later foray into clear cola, Crystal Pepsi. Apparently, when it comes to cola, the consumers know what they want -- they want it brown, and they want to drink it all day long.
Frito Lay Lemonade might seem like a good idea: Eating salty corn chips makes you thirsty, and lemonade can cure that thirst. Unfortunately, when people think Fritos, "thirst-quenching" is not an adjective that comes to mind. Therefore, Frito Lay's "logical" brand extension turned out to not be so logical after all.
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.
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.
In the 1960s, DuPont began to promote Corfam, a synthetic leather substitute. The company decided Corfam was best-suited to being used in women's shoes, but they forgot to take one thing into account -- comfort. Unfortunately, Corfam did not have the flexibility of leather, and while it may have been a cheaper alternative, it was certainly not a more comfortable alternative. In addition, as a response to Corfam, leather manufacturers began to lower prices and increase quality. Thus, Corfam lost its appeal.
Harley-Davidson fans are known as very loyal customers. However, even the beloved motorcycle brand can go too far. T-shirts and cigarette lighters were one thing, but when the company started to make aftershave and perfume, fans were not impressed. As the saying goes, less is more, and Harley-Davidson had spread itself too thin. Or maybe people just weren't too keen on the idea of smelling like a motorcycle.
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.
The way Maxwell House described its ready-to-drink coffee sounded appealing enough -- it was "a convenient new way to enjoy the rich taste of Maxwell House Coffee." Just one problem -- the coffee could not be microwaved in its original container, virtually canceling out any "convenience" it may have offered. If you can pour the "ready-to-drink" coffee into a mug and microwave it, you can certainly pour yourself a mug of coffee from a coffeemaker. And that's just what consumers continued to do.
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.
In an effort to class up the McDonald's brand, the company created the Arch Deluxe, a product marketed towards adults with more sophisticated palates. Just one problem -- people don't go to McDonald's for sophistication. McDonald's customers know what they want, and what they want is a classic and convenient burger. Needless to say, when the Arch Deluxe debuted in 1996, consumers weren't lovin' it.
The Betamax video recorder hit stores in 1975. A year later, Sony's rival released another video recorder -- the VHS. By early 1977, four other companies were selling VHS machines. Meanwhile, Sony chose not to license Betamax technology. Because the two formats were incompatible, consumers had to choose between the two. As Sony was the lone Betamax producer, you can guess which system they chose.
The fact that the Edsel is known as 'The Titanic of Automobiles' speaks volumes about the car's performance. It was launched with much hype in 1957, and showrooms were packed with curious consumers -- at first. Unfortunately the car did not live up to the high expectations, and only 64,000 were sold in the first year. Perhaps it was the fact that the design of the front grill was compared to 'an oldsmobile sucking a lemon,' and 'a toilet seat' that turned off consumers.
In the 1970s and early 80s, Coke began to face stiff competition from other soft drink producers. To remain in the number one spot, Coke executives decided to cease production on the classic cola in favor of New Coke. The public was outraged, and Coca-Cola was forced to re-launch its original formula almost immediately. Lesson learned -- don't mess with success.
Being a talk show host can be a very lucrative career. Oprah and Ellen Degeneres are prime examples. But just because you were once a celebrity doesn't mean you can carry your own show. Take Chevy Chase's talk show, for instance. It was canceled within weeks of its premiere. That's pretty sad. It could have been worse though. Other notable failures include Bette Midler's comedy 'Bette', and the late-night talk shows 'The Alan Thicke Show' and 'The Pat Sajak Show'
The concept behind the Millennium Dome wasn't bad. The beginning of another millennium is a pretty big deal, so why not celebrate it in a very expensive new building at the exact location where the millennium began? Only one problem -- no one was interested in going. The lack of visitors led to recurring financial problems, and the building was eventually closed to visitors and reopened under a new name, the O2.
Football is America's favorite past time and the NFL is the most successful sports league in America. So you would think that there was room for another league to capture some success. But failed attempts by the USFL and XFL show nothing is a sure thing.
The USFL played for just three seasons in the mid-1980s and the XFL played one disasterous season in 2001.
The games of the XXI Olympiad may be known for intoducing us to legends Nadia Comaneci, Sugar Ray Leonard and Bruce Jenner, but they also are arguably known as one of the biggest financial sporting disasters in history.
The city of Montreal faced 30 years of debts that didn't finish getting paid off until 2006. The Olympic Stadium, a lasting monument to the huge deficit, never had an effective retractable roof, and the tower was completed only after the Olympics ended.
Sometimes the product isn't the problem, it's the person promoting it. Take celebrities for instance.
Celebrities generally make the perfect spokespeople. Their fame can bring tons of publicity to just about any product. But what happens when a famous spokesperson has a slip-up? For the following stars, surprising -- sometimes shocking -- circumstances led companies to drop them faster than you can say, "You are SO outta here."