By Alan Graner
There are many reasons brands die. They might be:
- Perceived wrong
- Positioned wrong
- Packaged wrong
- Sold wrong
- Priced wrong
- Promoted wrong
The following are three products that should have died. Instead, improbably, all three became industry leaders.
The examples are from the book Getting It Right The Second Time by Michael Gershman (1990).
How do you make a lower calorie beer a “man’s” beer? Piels tried it and failed. So did Rheingold. Ditto Meister Brau. Only wimps drank low-calorie beer.
Miller Brewing Company, however, found the answer. They brewed a good-tasting beer that wasn’t “low calorie”; it was “less filling.” Because it was less filling, heavy beer drinkers could drink more without feeling bloated. It was “Everything you ever wanted in a beer…and less.”
Miller hired believable former athletes to make Miller Lite more appealing, and the Great Taste/Less Filling debates began.
Miller Lite went on to become one of America’s bestselling beers.
For the first 30 years of its existence, Marlboro was positioned as a premium-priced, nonfiltered cigarette aimed at women.
Philip Morris staged a comeback by adding a filter and an exclusive flip-top box. The packaging drew new customers…but the product didn’t keep them. Sales were almost immeasurable.
When ad agency Leo Burnett won the account in 1954, it decided to reposition the brand from feminine to he-man. The new brand image was the virile American cowboy, and sales tripled in three years.
Then came the coup de grace. In 1962 Burnett purchased the rights to Elmer Bernstein’s famous score to The Magnificent Seven, and Marlboro Country was born.
Marlboro has been the largest-selling brand in the U.S. since the end of 1975.
After World War II the traditional place to sell watches was jewelry stores, so that’s where Timex watches were proffered. Problem was, jewelers accustomed to making 50% to 200% profit on watches had no use for a watch selling for $6.95. A second sales killer: Timex watches were so inexpensive, they were easier to replace than repair, eliminating another jeweler profit center.
Cut off from the traditional distribution channel, salesmen tried just about every type of retail store until finally finding success at the corner drugstore. Unlike jewelers, druggists were thrilled to sell this “class merchandise.”
U.S. Time created a series of ads showing famous athletes abusing Timex watches to demonstrate their ruggedness. The ads were mildly successful because people thought they might be faked.
Then newsman John Cameron Swayze emceed a series of famous live TV “torture tests” ending with the famous slogan, “It took a licking and kept on ticking.”
By 1970 one out of every three watches sold in America was a Timex.
If you have a similar story we’d like to hear it.
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA business public relations and marketing content firm. For content that makes you stand out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.dsprel.com.