10 Of The Worst Product Fails In History
4 RJ Reynolds' Smokeless Cigarettes
Around 1988 it became clear that second hand smoke was as much of a danger to people as smoking itself. As a result, RJ Reynolds (the name behind other big cigarette brands such as Camel) decided to launch a brand of smokeless cigarettes. They worked by drawing heated air over tobacco and nicotine flavourings, thus reducing risk to the smoker as well as the people around them.
However, you know things aren't going well when even the company's CEO isn't a fan. He said that the cigarettes 'tasted like shit' - not one of the flavourings they were going for! He wasn't the only one; many people who tried the product complained about the taste. Clearly, it wasn't popular with smokers, and for non-smokers it had no purpose. It was destined to fail.
Considering that in total these smokeless cigarettes cost over $325 million to get on the shelves, you'd have thought they'd looked into all possible downfalls. However, one aspect which they failed to notice (despite all the investment) was that the cigarettes actually became a popular hiding place for crack cocaine. Once that damaging reputation had been established, there was little that RJ Reynolds could do to save the brand. After four months of terrible sales figures, the smokeless cigarettes were no more.
3 Crystal Pepsi
In the early '90s, a connection was made between clarity and purity; many popular brands jumped on this bandwagon. One such company was PepsiCo, who developed Crystal Pepsi - essentially, it was supposed to taste the same as regular Pepsi, with the gimmick being that it was clear and caffeine free. At first, the public loved it, with the brand raking in almost $500 million in its first year alone.
This popularity was short lived, despite extremely costly advertising, featuring a pioneering printing technique, Van Halen and the Super Bowl XXVII. It seems that people really aren't keen on something which looks like Sprite but which tastes like Cola; sales fell and Crystal Pepsi was withdrawn from sale a year later in 1994. The phrase 'if it isn't broken, don't fix it' springs to mind.
Incidentally, around the same time, Coca Cola launched a very similar product called 'Tab Clear'. After their fiasco with New Coke in the previous decade, it's surprising they tried something so unusual again!
During an interview in 2007, David C. Novak (Chairman of Yum! Brands) is quoted as saying: '[Crystal Pepsi is] the best idea I ever had, and the worst executed... It would have been nice if I'd made sure the product tasted good. Once you have a great idea and you blow it, you don't get a chance to resurrect it'. True words - the two clear drinks which PepsiCo launched later the same decade also failed miserably.