Products and brand extensions that were a bust

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  • June 3, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Products and brand extensions that were a bust

The pavlova. The light bulb. The bungy jump. The toilet. Lewis Road Creamery chocolate milk.

Great inventions have debuted both here in New Zealand and overseas, but then there are products that leave you wondering how they made it past the boardroom.

Here’s a recap of business ideas both here and overseas that the owners openly embraced as a failure, tried to bury in the past or just disappeared into oblivion altogether.

1.Michael Hill’s foray into footwear before The Bachelor NZ success

He may be dominating channels here and overseas with his ‘We’re for love’ Superbowl ads and dishing out love advice on The Bachelor NZ, but it hasn’t been always been a walk in the park for Michael Hill.

In 1992, Michael Hill ventured into footwear and launched Michael Hill Shoes.

He bought a Christchurch chain of high-end, Italian footwear and changed the shoes to be mid-range with a fast turnover. Nine shoe shops operated across the country side-by-side with his jewellery stores.

He shut down the business in 1994 after not so successful results.

He wrote about the venture in his biography, “[It] turned out be a series of colossal mistakes”.

2. The Warehouse’s ‘Warehouse Extra’ grocery stores

Once upon a time, the red shed giant tried its hand at food retailing.

The three Warehouse Extra stores were opened in Whangarei, Sylvia Park in Auckland and Te Rapa in Hamilton.

The stores shut down in 2008 at a cost of $10 to 12 million.

Super centres have managed to succeed in overseas countries, but their success relies on a “halo” effect of increasing general merchandise sales by attracting customers to buy groceries.

The Warehouse failed to meet the 10 percent halo threshold, so it had no choice but to close. The shaky state of the economy also played a part.

3.Mammoth Supply Co and its “manly” products

Mammoth Supply Co burst onto the scene in 2010 with dairy products pitched exclusively at men.

Yoghurt, ice cream and milk were all promoted as “manly” products that men could get amongst.

Its website states:

“Man. It used to be the best job title in the world.

Man has lost his place in the world and his place in the fridge. There are scarce few products we can call our own. At Mammoth Supply Company, we've decided to do something about this and offer men something for men - non-nonsense, fill-you-up yoghurt, iced coffee and ice cream.”

Fonterra was behind the company’s creation. Its ads won a slew of awards, but received backlash for being overly masculine and ridiculous in their portrayal of men.

Its yoghurt and ice cream products have disappeared into oblivion without a trace, as has its Facebook page.

The site is still up and running but what has happened to the company remains a mystery.

4. Coca-Cola Cherry, Coca-Cola Lemon and other failed Coke products

Coke’s new reincarnation, a low-sugar variation on its Coca Cola, apparently isn’t faring well across the ditch.

Coke Life has fallen well short of sales expectations, with 7 million litres sold in its first five weeks.

The drink has been criticised for having both stevia and sugar in it, instead of replacing all the sugar with stevia.

It joins a list of Coke products that slowly dropped off shelves.

Coca-Cola Cherry was introduced in 1985, but it’s hard to track down a bottle of it here. However, the US still goes crazy for it.

Coca-Cola with Lemon launched in 2001 but was discontinued in 2005.

Coca-Cola with Lime launched in 2005, as did Coca-Cola Raspberry, which then was discontinued in the same year.

The only coke variation that seems to have done well is Coca-Cola Vanilla, which was brought back by popular demand in 2007.

5. Colgate Kitchen entrees

In one of the most wacky brand extensions ever, toothpaste manufacturer Colgate decided it would be a good idea to branch out into the microwave meal market.

You know, because you want the same brand you use to brush your teeth to create the meal you eat beforehand.

The 1982 lightbulb idea of frozen dinners didn’t prove to be so popular.

Maybe if they were mint flavoured they would’ve taken off better with consumers, but the entrees were a bust.

Colgate’s toothpaste sales also suffered during this.

Lesson learnt: don’t try branching into food when you’re a toothpaste company.

​ ​

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