Thursday, July 9, 2009

BK Dymacel

Back in the day, my first basketball sneakers were a pair of BK Dymacels. When I laced up my British Knights hightops, I felt like I could run the court with anybody. Although my hoops career failed to even outlast the BK Dymacel’s, the BK Dymacel remains to be one of the all-time biggest flops in footwear. At the impressionable age of nine, I can remember the BK commercials with my favorite rapper, MC Hammer, along with the Dymacel giveaways on my favorite TV show, Double Dare. That’s all it took for me.

To give some background, in the 80’s the shoe company initially targeted the hip hop scene and was rather successful. The British Knights name was often featured in rap videos and was endorsed by MC Hammer. However, when they decided to launch a premium athletic hightop in the early 90’s, it appears that the urban footwear company had stretched a bit too far. The Dymacel technology featured a clear heel where you could see a silicon diamond shaped cushion system. At a time when Nike Air Jordans and Reebok Pumps dominated the basketball shoe market, this was far from an advanced cushion and support system. Not surprisingly, the Dymacel was British Knights first and last attempt at marketing a superior athletic sneaker. The development of the Dymacel is an example of a company over extending its product line and not being able to financially compete with the market leaders. Later on, BK became the unofficial footwear of The Crips in Southern California where BK was perceived to stand for "Blood Killers." As the public became aware, BK suffered enormous negative publicity and damage to the brand's equity. It is alleged that the gang related events led to the disappearance of the British Knights sneaker in America.

Fruit Stripe Gum

Now here’s a video that reminds me of Saturday morning cartoons. Fruit Stripe gum used to be everywhere and typically a checkout aisle favorite for most kids in the 90’s. It featured colorful zebra stripes on the sticks of gum and offered the most artificial tasting gum in the world. But kids loved it! The major downfall of this sugary delight was its ephemeral taste. As the marketplace for gum became much more competitive in the new millennium, only long lasting gums maintained their market share. Fruit Stripe has sadly fallen victim to fierce competition within the chewing gum marketplace. Their lack of product improvement led to their inability to compete with the everlasting flavors that consumers demand today. Still there is no reason to cry because according to my research, Fruit Stripe gum is still sporadically available. So keep your eye out for Yipes the Zebra.

Crystal Pepsi

Who could ever forget the famous Crystal Pepsi commercial during the 1993 Super Bowl featuring the song “Right Now” by Van Halen? Thanks to YouTube, I have provided a link in case you needed a little refresher. Does this bring back some memories? At the time, Pepsi was aggressively targeting consumers who embraced a healthier diet and lifestyle with this caffeine-free cola alternative. Similar to how car manufacturers are now targeting the “green” market segment with their ads touting fuel efficiency and clean energy, Pepsi marketed Crystal Pepsi as a pure, healthy version of cola. However, Pepsi’s biggest challenge was that it was marketing a contradictory product, “clear cola.” Cola drinkers were not comfortable with this new clear, decaffeinated version, while consumers who preferred colorless soft drinks (Sprite, 7 Up, etc.) were not a fan of the cola taste which Pepsi Clear still had. This was an example of Pepsi targeting a niche market that did not exit. Like our previous two soft drinks, sales of Crystal Pepsi quickly plummeted and Pepsi made the decision to pull the product from the shelf.


One of the strangest beverages ever created has to be Orbitz. This funky, non-carbonated drink was launched in 1996 and featured floating edible balls that resembled nothing other than maybe a lava lamp. When it first came out, it created a huge buzz and intrigued the minds of even the most skeptic consumers. Surprisingly, this drink was also developed by Clearly Canadian but had a much shorter product life cycle than their sparkling flavored water.

So what happened to this cosmic creation? While the gel spheres intrigued consumers enough to buy it once, the poor offering of flavors did not keep customers coming back for more. Flavors like Pineapple, Banana, Cherry, Coconut and Vanilla Orange were just plain awful. What were the developers thinking? The reason why nearly all products fail, poor sales, forced Orbitz to take a quick exit from the marketplace. This appears to be a classic case of marketing myopia. Clearly, the product developers became so fixated on the aesthetics of the gel spheres that they forgot about the most important feature of a beverage, the taste. One last point, it seems that the product developers were not just deficient when it comes to marketing. After discovering that their slogan was, “Defy Gravity. Get into Orbitz,” they probably should have brushed up on there physics as well. Although I am nearly a decade removed from my last physics course, don’t objects depend upon gravity to remain in orbit? Just a thought.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

First Up - Clearly Canadian

As a kid growing up in Maine, there was nothing better on a hot, sweltering day (65 degrees) at the local Little League field than a bottle of peach flavored Clearly Canadian while warming the bench. Does anyone else remember this tasty concoction? I can still taste the gentle mist and smell the fruity aroma that emanated from the bottle upon opening. It seemed as though the crisply refreshing soft drink was available at every gas station in the entire state.

So what happened? Clearly Canadian's intensive distribution strategy led to a surplus of supply relative to the markets demand. In the US, they clearly (pun intended) overestimated the demand for their product. In addition, Clearly Canadian priced itself higher than most soft drinks which weakened its competitive advantage. The brand may have benefited from a more selective distribution method and a more concentrated advertising campaign which targeted kids. When it all comes down to it, not enough Americans were buying the fizzy, fruity soft drinks that were on every convenience store shelf.

That said, I am pleased to report that this product is still widely available in Canada. In fact, you and I can stop reminiscing and actually purchase your childhood refreshment at

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Welcome to my first blog - Whatever happened to that?

Welcome to my blog. I am extremely excited to get started. I developed the idea for this blog after recently completing a graduate course in Marketing Management. While reading course materials, I was astounded by the overwhelming percentage of new consumer products that fail shortly after launch. Given the grim reality of new product development, I thought it would be interesting to chronicle mainstream products that have been discontinued. My aim is to learn from the past by identifying the key factors that contributed to a particular product’s demise. However, while we can learn from past mistakes, the future belongs to those who dare.