In their attempts to make their brands noticeable in the market, companies sometimes push out products that end up becoming legendary. And sometimes, not in a good way at all. Here are some of the worst products people with corporate salaries thought were a good idea — and that literally anyone could have told them is anything but.
San Francisco-based Juicero received $120 million in startup venture capital, including from Google, for its revolutionary product that cashes in on pretentious douchebags’ need to flag their commoditized virtue in the most expensive fashion possible.
The company would make money both from subscriptions to DRM’d baggies of pre-juiced organic fruits and vegetables, as well as the proprietary Juicero kitchen device whose entire life purpose is to squeeze that juice into your glass.
The fact that this ever progressed beyond a satirical skit cooked up while high on something good has nightmarish implications for our future as a species.
And, it wasn’t long before people noticed you can just squeeze the juice out of the baggies with your own hands — no WiFi connected (really) kitchen appliance needed.
Laugh at the dingleberries who spent a small fortune on this to show us how much better they are than everybody else and now can’t use it within sight of other human beings because we’ll laugh at them even harder.
Colgate Kitchen Entrees
Back in the 80s, Colgate Frozen Dinner Entrees was Colgate’s attempt to capture the swelling interest in ready-to-eat meals.
The thinking probably went: Colgate has its line of dental care products, so why not release food they can eat before brushing their teeth also? And because they were already on this high level of thinking, they also insisted that the familiar Colgate brand has to be on the package.
The frozen dinners tasted nothing like toothpaste, but who could blame us for not wanting food from a toothpaste company? Had it been from anyone else, it might have worked out fine.
According to The Daily Meal, Colgate Kitchen Entrees was such a flop it even caused a decline in Colgate toothpaste sales. Am I brushing my teeth with beef lasagna?
There are people whose entire lives revolve around Twitter, and they still wouldn’t want to use this piece of shit device if you paid them. It can’t do email, or show you porn, and it won’t let you call anyone. It won’t let you play multiplayer games — or any games for that matter. Twitter Peek can’t do anything except send and receive tweets — and charging you $8 a month for the privilege.
And how does Twitter Peek perform at literally the only thing it’s supposed to do? Here’s what PC Mag had to say about it:
But as soon as I started handling the TwitterPeek, I knew something was wrong. This handheld is painfully slow. Scrolling through button selections or on-screen lists, the cursor is always a bit behind your trackwheel.
TwitterPeek also fails at the most basic function: reading tweets. The main list of tweets only shows the first three and a half words of each message; to read more, you have to dig down by hitting the ‘return’ key. Then you can step through tweets, slowly, one by one, with the ‘n’ (for next) and ‘p’ (for previous) keys, or jump back up to the unreadable full list of truncated messages. The whole process is slow and annoying.
If you google Twitter Peek, you’ll see it auto-suggests “Twitter Peek failure.” But even if you don’t hit that search, you’ll quickly find out the terrible product ended up in Sweden’s Museum of Failure.
Bottled water — for pets
Dogs will happily slurp water out of roadside puddles, and cats will help themselves to the pathogenic hellwater in a toilet bowl. So of course, in the 90s, a war between competing companies was started to reach the non-existing demographic of people who want to pour bottled water rather than tap water into their pets’ water bowls.
Of course they all failed.
That didn’t stop K9 Water Co. in 2003 — human memory only lasts a news cycle, after all — when they introduced bottled “Gutter Water,” “Puddle Water,” “Hose Water” and “Toilet Water” for our canine companions, who still refuse to give a shit about the branding or packaging of their damn water.
R. J. Reynolds’ smokeless cigarettes
In 1981, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s CEO wanted to cash in on the new awareness around the dangers of smoking, and also prevent smokers from quitting, but he wasn’t sure the board of directors would be keen on his idea for a smokeless cigarette. So he started a black project that spent huge amounts of money developing his new cigarette that was supposed to aerosolize nicotine without producing smoke.
The board of directors wouldn’t find out about any of it until a driver randomly made an offhand remark while driving past the factory the work was being done in. At that point the CEO had successfully kept it under wraps for five years.
The Premier cigarettes were difficult to light, tasted horrible, and the aftertaste was even horrible-r.
A later RJR CEO said it best: “It tastes like shit and smells like a fart.” He elaborated: “We spent $350 million and we ended up with a turd with a tip.”
ESPN mobile phone
Mobile ESPN was ESPN’s desperate first move to get into the mobile phone scene back in 2005. Intended as a sports-centric mobile device that lets anyone access ESPN content and game scores anywhere, the phone cost USD 300, and the victim had to shell out an additional $65 to $225 monthly for the service.
It hit a pitiful 6% of the sales target. Now dubbed the company’s biggest and most embarrassing failure, the device was a $150 million down the drain level flop, and the entire thing was shut down a year later.
However, this was the same failure of an idea that forced ESPN to rethink its approach to reach the mobile-dependent masses… and it paid off in the end, with ESPN now perhaps the largest sports media network. Interesting, right?
Gerber’s adult baby food
Mushed up goo in a jar is acceptable food to babies, because babies just don’t know much about anything — and they also don’t have teeth. Gerber, a brand closely tied to said jar goo — I mean baby food — decided that with the right marketing they could expand their customer base to the 99% of us who aren’t crawling around on the floor and looking for our first word.
So Gerber launched their Singles line of adult baby food in 1974. It was marketed to young adults who had never lived alone before, and was soundly rejected. It’s still referenced as one of the biggest brand failures of all time.
Bic’s disposable underwear
Bic is best known for its disposable pens and lighters, and the success of these products has tempted them into making cheap versions of all kinds of small everyday objects. And when you’ve built a strong brand based on household knick-knacks, why not go into women’s underwear?
Via Brand Failures:
The prize for the most bizarre brand extension must go to Bic. The company, best known for producing disposable pens, thought its brand name was strong enough to be applied to other categories. Indeed, it had already achieved success with disposable cigarette lighters and safety razors. The unifying factor here was ‘disposability’. Bic pens, lighters and razors were all throw-away goods. Furthermore, Bic could exploit its well established distribution network and sell the lighters and razors in the same outlets as its pens.
However, when the Bic brand applied its name to women’s underwear, consisting of a line of ‘disposable pantyhose’ they were unable to attract customers. Okay, so the disposability element was still there. But that was about it. Consumers were unable to see any link between Bic’s other products and underwear, because of course there was no link.
Please don’t tell us in the comments if you actually bought any of this junk. Or maybe do.
John Salazar is a creative writer and loves all things science and technology, health and wellness, and even a bit of music on the side.