1. Life Savers soda
Year launched: 1980s
Why it bombed: The candy-flavored drink fared well in taste tests but tanked on the shelves. Some customers found it too sweet, while others avoided purchasing it altogether, assuming it would be akin to drinking “liquid candy.”
2. Microsoft Zune
Year launched: 2006
Why it bombed: The Zune, developed in conjunction with Toshiba, was Microsoft’s answer to the hot new iPods that Apple was pushing. But the clunky Zune failed to swipe enough market share, as the iPod took around 65%. On Oct. 3, 2011, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of all Zune hardware, encouraging users to transition to Windows Phone.
3. Colgate Kitchen Entrees
Year launched: 1982
Why it bombed: Colgate decided the logical way to pivot its toothpaste empire was to launch a line of frozen dinner entrees. Unfortunately, customers didn’t exactly rush to get their hands on stir-fry churned out by the same people who put peppermint paste in a tube.
4. Apple QuickTake camera
Year launched: 1994
Why it bombed: One of the first digital cameras, Apple’s QuickTake (1994–1997) was a 0.3-megapixel camera that took 640 × 480 resolution images, of which it could store eight. The camera had a built-in flash, but no focus or zoom controls. Other than downloading the photos to a computer, there was no way to preview them on the camera; it also retailed for a pretty steep $600–$750.
5. Cosmopolitan yogurt
Year launched: 1999
Why it bombed: Yes, like the magazine. The famously titillating ladymag once made an ill-advised foray into dairy products, introducing a “sophisticated and aspirational” yogurt brand. The only thing Cosmo-gurt aspired to, however, was a short shelf life: It was discontinued after a mere 18 months.
6. Crystal Pepsi
Year launched: 1992
Why it bombed: Crystal Pepsi was marketed as a caffeine-free “clear alternative” to normal colas, equating clearness with purity and health. Revenue benefitted from its novelty soon after its launch, but sales quickly nosedived. Yum! Brands Chairman David C. Novak, who’s credited with the Crystal Pepsi concept, said in a 2007 interview: “It was a tremendous learning experience. I still think it’s the best idea I ever had, and the worst executed.”
7. Ford’s Edsel car
Year launched: 1957
Why it bombed: Ford’s Edsel line was supposed to be the car of the future, but critics trashed its design and air of modern excess at a time of economic recession. Ford pulled the car after two years; it sold only half of the 200,000 units the company was expecting.
8. Thirsty Dog bottled water
Year launched: 2008
Why it bombed: Does your pet really need his or her own Evian? The founders of Thirsty Dog betted yes when they launched a line of portable water infused with flavors like crispy beef (for dogs) and tangy fish (for cats). Unfortunately, Thirsty Dog ended up permanently in the doghouse.
9. McDonald’s Arch Deluxe
Year launched: 1996
Why it bombed: McDonald’s launched the “adult-oriented” Arch Deluxe, which featured a circular piece of bacon, slivered onions and a “secret” mustard and mayonnaise sauce, with a $150 million ad campaign — one of the most expensive advertising campaigns in history. However, customers were turned off by the high price and unconventional ads, and consumer groups were upset by the higher caloric content. More like Arch De-DUD.
Year launched: 2011
Why it bombed: In September 2011, Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings announced in a Netflix blog post that the DVD section of Netflix would be split off and renamed Qwikster; Netflix subscribers who wanted DVDs by mail would have had to use a separate website to access Qwikster. After a colossal outcry from customers, Hastings scrapped the whole project one month later.
12. Frito-Lay WOW! chips
Year launched: 1998
Why it bombed: Frito-Lay’s new line of fat-free snacks sure sounded too good to be true, and it kind of was: The company replaced the fat in its popular snack brands with a compound called Olestra, which subsequently caused major cramping, “anal leakage,” and other digestive complications for many people. YIKES.
13. New Coke
Year launched: 1985
Why it bombed: Coca-Cola tried to improve the formula for its flagship cola product, but many customers fiercely rejected “the new taste of Coca-Cola.” Many of the backlashers were Southerners who considered the drink a fundamental part of regional identity, and soon Coke faced public protests, boycotts, and bottles being emptied into the streets of Southern cities. The company soon reintroduced its original formula, calling it “Coca-Cola Classic.”
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