Discover the strange and unrelated products released by famous brands
In order for famous brands to remain relevant, they need to try new things. Just ask Nintendo, who started out in 1889 making playing cards. Over the years they branched out into other areas such as toys, instant rice, taxi cabs and… love hotels that rents out rooms by the hour. All that before finally getting into video games and consoles.
What other famous brands released products that today seem strange and totally off-brand? Some, like the Guinness World Record Book, became a popular series while others were not as commercially successful. Certain brands like KFC and Burger King put out wacky ideas all the time — which may be unrelated but still feel on-brand. And to illustrate these and other strange ventures, British plumbing supply company PlumbWorld has compiled the following infographic that details famous brands that tried to capitalize on other markets.
Famous brands that released weird products
Colgate released their Kitchen Entrées hoping to capitalize on the emerging ready-to-eat market. Unfortunately, the Colgate brand resonated too strongly with minty toothpaste rather than delicious food and this venture failed before it was even launched.
The potato-chip giant’s rationale behind introducing a drink product was for consumers to enjoy their refreshing lemonade after eating their salty snacks. The product was deemed confusing to the brand identity, however, and failed to take off.
Bic successfully managed to extend the brand from selling disposable pens to include razors and lighters. However, their bizarre decision to venture into the unrelated market of underwear didn’t strike a chord with customers and the product was soon discontinued.
The famous lighter company also produced perfumes, with the bottle designed in the familiar lighter shape. But with connotations of spraying bad smelling (and flammable!) lighter fluid on yourself, this brand extension is definitely an odd direction to choose.
The association of the iconic motorcycle brand Harley Davidson with a cake decorating kit fit for birthday parties and soirées did not go down with loyal followers of the brand. A truly bizarre direction to take this famous brand.
Engineering the unique flavour of this popular soft drink into a BBQ sauce wasn’t as successful as anticipated for Dr. Pepper — the mainstream market wasn’t impressed by the taste and seemed unwilling to adopt the soda as their sauce.
The popular women’s magazine made a connection between sex and yogurt before launching their own dairy range. Unfortunately, no one else saw the connection and retailing at higher prices than established competitors, Cosmo soon decided to stick to magazines.
Smith and Wesson
The famous firearms manufacturer decided to lend its reputation for quality and reliability to mountain bikes. However, like many products on this list, the lack of connection to the main brand turned this product into a well-known flop.
A venture of Richard Branson’s Virgin into bridal wear saw a few shops open across the UK, however, sales didn’t take off and Virgin pulled the plug on the business. Branson later wrote Virgin Brides failed “because we soon realized there weren’t any.”
The US-based product, selling facial creams and cleansers, attempted to gain a market share in toothpaste, however, it was a stretch too far for the brand. Despite performing well in taste tests, the toothpaste was not a hit, perhaps due to the more cosmetic focus of other products.
Evian released a bra that can be filled with water in order to help keep the wearer cool. A seemingly random direction for a bottled mineral water company and unsurprisingly the product failed to take off.
Cheetos, created by Lays, tried to mimic the cheesy tang left on your lips after a packet of the snack by releasing a lip balm of the same flavour. Unfortunately, customers were less likely to pay to purposely have their face smell like cheese. Whether it was a real product or a marketing gimmick, the lip balm did not succeed.
Famous brand Gerber, a maker of baby food, tried to target college students and young adults with jars filled with their blended meals. However, this target demographic deemed the adult baby food neither cool nor indeed necessary and the product went out of manufacture.
The restaurant brand established an airline in 2003, flying to destinations mainly in the US before ceasing operations in 2006. The planes were painted in orange and white colours with the Hootie the Owl mascot on the side and had 2 “Hooters Girls” on board to assist the flight crew.
The US candy brand released a range of brightly coloured sodas in the same flavours as their hard candy. Unfortunately, customers were not drawn to the idea of drinking liquid candy and the drinks were not a commercial success.
Clothing company Diesel entered into the realm of vineyards with their venture into the wine industry in the early 90s. However, the venture into boutique wines proved too complex in the crowded wine industry.
One of the few actual successes of famous brands, the idea was sparked after the managing director of Guinness got into an argument over what was the fastest game bird whilst on a shoot. What started as a marketing giveaway of 1000 books has evolved into an annual release and a treasured book series.
The tire manufacturer initially created the first Michelin guide in 1900 to encourage people to travel and boost the demand for cars, thereby bolstering the business for car tires. In 1926 the guide started reviewing restaurants with its star guide, which is now the pinnacle of restaurant rating systems.
The main lesson for famous brands to learn from these examples is that sticking your brand name on a bold new product comes with some risks. Not always for the better, either. Especially if your idea is utterly insane.