Thursday, March 22, 2012

TAKE 5: Spectacular Flops (In honor of John Carter)

So Disney's pretty much thrown the towel in the John Carter vs The Box Office saga, announcing this week they expect losses in excess of $200M for the film (which felt like a shameless ploy to guilt people into going to see or buying the soon-to-come DVD), and are calling it their biggest flop ever. Which I feel is extremely unfair since it's actually really good (some have been calling it this generation's Star Wars) and I have yet to meet someone who hated it (someone REAL, not some online wannabe critic who writes on a blog with a stupid name, you know the kind...).

So in honor of the film , let's do a comparison:


5. Eric Clapton & Anheuser-Busch (1988)
Clapton hasn't really ever been an endorsement kind of guy, which made him the perfect spokesperson since he appeared as anything but a sellout. The guys behind Budweiser and other ales got their hands on him in '88 and had him sign a substantial contract for a marketing campaign that spread from TV ads to print media, cardboard cutouts, personal appearances and probably a swig or two on stage during his concerts. BUT before the first commercial even hit the airwaves, Slowhands had checked himself into rehab; he later said in interview that his struggle while filming it forced him into self-admission about his drinking problem. Awkward is an understatement and not exactly what Bud was going for, and the whole campaign folded rather quickly to significant loss. "Hey folks, THIS is a GREAT beer, though I can't drink it 'cause it turns me into an enormous douche who pisses his life away and beats the shit out of loved ones. But, you know, YOU buy it!"

4. BiC's Disposable Underwear
The BiC brand sucessfully extended its concept of short-term items to multiple products, like lighters or razors or ball-point pens. At some point in the 90's, someone on the top floor figured they should keep "pioneering" by extending said concept to things no one thought of before. First up: Boxer shorts. A post-mortem on the very-quickly canceled experiment had the company saying that people found the brandname association with private-protectors a little awkward. Or, you know, maybe disposable undies is a little too close to diapers and may be the stupidest idea since CBS moved Murder She Wrote to Thursday nights opposite Friends.

3. Sony's Betamax
Truth be told, Betamax was superior to rival VHS in audio and video quality, but it was also costlier, had lower capacity for recording time and Sony tried to shaft its competitors by imposing its technology as the industry standard, for which they were close to convincing the Japanese Ministry of Trade & Industry. JVC wouldn't give in to the monopoly attempt and 18 months later came out with the much more affordable VHS, which could already attain up to four times it's rival's tape recording time and also was much quicker to launch on the North American market. By 1981, 6 years after its debut, Betamax accounted to no more than 25% of all VCR sales, going down to 7.5% by 1985. By the end of the decade, Betamax was synonymous with failure, and a case-study in marketing Dos and Don'ts. Sony got its revenge however, when its bulkier and much-costlier Blu-Ray DVD mopped the floor with HD DVD not too long ago. And just to turn the knife and torture us a little more, they made Spider-Man 3...

2. Montreal's 1976 Olympic Games
For people outside my home province, the '76 Olympiads are synonymous with Nadia Comaneci and Sugar Ray Leonard, but to us it meant decades of taxes just to re-imburse the damn stadium that fell into decrepitude long before it was finally all paid for (which happened in 2006). The stadium tower, which was to be a monument to architectural advancement and ingenuity, was completed after the games and serves as nothing else but a touristic observation spot. '76 is still regarded as the most financially disastrous Games, leaving the city tens of millions in the red and forcing a complete rehaul of how Olympiads are managed, marketed and financed (now relying on the American capitalist model of the '84 venue in LA). Needless to say, when Quebec City was passed over a few years back in favor of Salt Lake (the year of the bribes scandal that forced out the almost entire International Olympic Comittee), taxpayers over here didn't mind at all. Can you blame us?

1. New Coke
There's failure, and then there's Fiasco. And somewhere a few rungs above that, there's New Coke. 200 years from now THIS is the example school teacher will use when explaining the meme of Epic Fail. THIS is the mother of bad business decisions.

Coca Cola felt the competition stiffening in the late-70s, with more and more companies releasing similar soft drinks, so they decided to move ahead and try to look, well..."New", by changing their recipe and ditching the old one. The results, unleashed in 1985, was a unanimous -and instantaneous- rejection by consumers, forcing the company to very quickly come back to the old formula which they dubbed "Classic" Coke.

No comments:

Post a Comment