What were they thinking?

| Updated on: Jan 22, 2018




Michelin is a tyre company, and its restaurant guide is the last word on fine dining. Founders Andre Michelin and Edouard Michelin believed that a highly rated restaurant would be worth travelling to, leading people to buy more tyres, and started the guide in 1900. This is a brand extension that worked well but branding history is filled with other examples that would make you wonder why they were launched. Some of them are available online.

So when a tyre company can run a successful restaurant guide, why can’t a motorbike company sell icing kits? That’s exactly what Harley Davidson did when it launched a cake decorating kit. It hoped children would be inspired to recreate its bikes in sugar and cream and build bonds with the brand. Lighter company Zippo has a perfume for women which even resembles its main product. With fewer people smoking because of health concerns, the company diversified into launching camping gear, clothing and accessories. In the early 1980s, Colgate launched frozen dinners, hoping the meal would be followed up with a session of brushing with Colgate. It didn’t work.

Cheetos, a brand of cheese snacks, launched a lip balm. Burger giant McDonald’s attempt at pizza failed to wow customers. Hello Kitty launched beer, fruit-flavoured, in Taiwan and China for its adult women customers who have grown up with the cartoon cat.

Coca-Cola has launch- ed nail polish under the O.P.I. brand, but the company points out that its association with beauty goes back to the 1940s.

Published on October 29, 2015
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