Wednesday, 24 June 2015

shiny happy people

So product Zuma is up, running and on a shelf near you now. And about time too I say, it’s such a bore when a launch takes so long to get off the ground, and whatever you think of our new Pres he’s at least got what it takes to make a splash on the world stage. Something a new idea needs and what we’ve been sadly missing for a long while, an air of authority and power.

With a flick of her dirty blonde mop my art director looks up from a bowl of her home made hot & spicy Chinese soup to fill me in on what she thinks of our fearless new leader’s launch on the world-stage.
“Whether elected or appointed,
He considers himself the Lord’s anointed,
And indeed the ointment lingers on him,
So thick you can’t get your fingers on him.”
She has long been absorbing Ogden Nash from the puddles of beer flowing freely across the Brazen Head’s bar.

A great launch has a lot of complex components melded into one spearhead and like most things in Adland it’s a precarious undertaking.
You only get one shot at it. Bugger it up and you’ll go the way of some of the biggest cock-ups since Ford launched the Nova in Mexico significantly failing to notice that the car’s name translated locally to “No go.”

Over hype can ring the death knell for a new product as surely as no hype at all. In the 90’s the world of computer gaming was on the edge of its collective ergonomically designed seat awaiting the launch of “Battlecruiser 3000AD.” Billed as the most amazing and mind-blowing experience ever created it was all set to be “the last thing you’ll ever desire.” Famous last words indeed. For seven years, (probably equivalent to 30 or 40 in gamers years), it remained parked in development as they ironed out creases in design, technology and packaging. By the time TakeTwo Interactive released it to frankly disinterested public it was all but ignored. For a start it was a DOS game and the world had moved onto Windows 95, the bugs and out-moded graphics were ridiculed by trend conscious gamers worldwide and Battlecruiser 3000 sank without a trace.

Inauspicious launches are not a modern invention. In the 1950’s Ford went all out to create a new line of car to compete with zooty machines rolling off the General Motors conveyor belts. The “E-Car,” (E for experimental), was packed to the hilt with marvellous innovations never seen before to the level where it was being punted as the first new and original car for years. A teaser campaign ran for months hinting at the sheer brilliance of the new Edsel motor vehicle. A TV special ran for an hour called the “The Edsel Show” featiuring such hot talent as Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. And then finally the curtain was raised on September 4th 1957, or “E-Day” as the ever-hopeful guys at Ford attempted to christen it. To say it flopped would be an understatement. It had everything inside but nothing out, it was styled too conventional for the progressive market of the time. The workmanship was sub-standard and the pricing so hard to understand that no one knew if it was an economical, mid-market or high end vehicle. It was a $400 000 000 failure. And thus became a legend anyway.

To really mess up a launch you have to go a long way to beat that red devil of the marketing world, Coca-Cola. In 1985 with nothing better to do than to watch their huge market share get swallowed by competitors they decided to act. In an amazing move of self-destruction they changed the formula of the product upon which their 100 years of considerable prosperity was based. Without a thought for their highly loyal fan base they announced on April 23rd that they were launching the reformulated fizzy drink under the line “The best just got better.”
At first the ad campaigns seemed to be working and the great American public were happily swallowing the new stuff. Unfortunately for Coke their massive consumer base in the South East States were less than impressed and started a campaign expressing not only their dislike of New Coke, (although surprisingly not the taste), and their feelings of betrayal and disappointment in the company for messing with the iconic Brand. Needless to say on July 10th that year Coca-Cola returned to their original formula leaving many people confused by the whole saga and conspiracy theorists seeing shadows about the company’s role in the affair.

If you were looking for something to go with your tasty beverage then the McDonalds Deluxe line would have been perfect for you. Launched under the dubious line, “Especially for grown-up tastes,” they were a range of sandwiches created by a specially hired Executive Chef to add glamour to the fastest of fast foods.
Backed by a marvellously daft ad campaign which set them back a tasty $100 million, the idea eventually cost around $300 000 000 before McDonalds swallowed their pride and withdrew the whole thing.
On the web-site you can still find a step by step guide to the “Deluxe Line Dance,” choreographed by Debbie Allen who can be seen teasing the world into McSteppin.

Some products you would swear deserve to fail and fail badly just seem impervious to the abuse and laughter, which they receive and continue on to make millions.
My own current favourite is the “Folding omelette pan” a device for those of us who become hot and disorientated when called upon to turn an omelette over. As the ads say “Let the pan do the folding!” Ingenious really, if your idea of food is some mushed up eggs and diced additives. Flip out over one at:

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