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Mario Marsicano
Cheetos Lip Balm & More Bizarre Brand Extensions
by Mario Marsicano

When I heard about the new Burger King Whopper Bar, my immediate thought was that it wouldn’t be the first place I’d go for a cocktail. This also reminded me of Burger King’s other recent brand extension -– a new fragrance called Flame by BK. This meat perfume was obviously a promotional stunt designed to sell more burgers, but in general, corporate brand extensions are serious attempts to grow a brand beyond its initial range of products. Sometimes the tactic works, and other times it just leads to good comedy.

1. Cheetos Lip Balm

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Several brands have dipped into the lip balm product category. The basic rule is, ‘if it tastes good, why not smear it on your face?’ But I don’t think works with cheese products. Frito-Lay got in the game in 2005 when they launched Cheetos lip balm. Now maybe it was a great way to experience the delicious joy that is Cheetos, with only a fraction of the calories, but the dozens of negative reviews have convinced me that it was an idea ahead of its time. One thing is certain — I really want some Cheetos right now.

2. Lifesavers Soda

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Lifesavers Soda was introduced back in the 80s, and was off the shelves not too long after that. It came in five flavors, and apparently did well in taste tests before the launch. But the name just didn’t work with the product, as consumers just weren’t looking for a candy they could drink.

3. Colgate Kitchen Entrees

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Maybe it’s me, but thinking of the taste of toothpaste while enjoying my veal scallopini just doesn’t seem appetizing. It’s no wonder this brand of microwavable dinner entrees didn’t last very long. Not even the potential for a dazzling white smile was enough to drive sales.

4. NASCAR romance novels

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Speed Bumps, In the Groove, Hearts Under Caution – they should sell millions of copies based on the titles alone. It was November of 2005 when NASCAR signed a licensing deal with Harlequin Enterprises to put out a series of romance novels. The racing organization was growing their female fan base, and romance novels seemed like a good way to continue the trend. The books are still being sold today, so it seems like this brand extension has been fairly successful. And the pit crews always did need something to do while the drivers are on the track, so I guess it makes sense.

5. Bic Underwear

We first knew Bic as the company that made very reliable writing instruments. Then Bic got into the disposable lighter and razor market, and we still bought their products. But we had to draw the line somewhere (get it?!), and the idea of disposable underwear just wasn’t that appealing.

6. Hooters MasterCard

hooters-mastercard.jpgAnd this has to be my favorite. I could’ve gone with Hooters Air, which closed up shop back in 2006, or used the Hooters energy drink for this list. But I went with the Hooters MasterCard for one main reason: I cannot imagine what it takes to whip this baby out when making a purchase. Having a business lunch? Let me pay for that with my Hooters Business Card. Taking the family to Great Adventure? No problem, put all four tickets on the Hooters Gold. There should be a website just for the expressions of the people taking the card as payment. Their website says the card is issued by Merrick Bank, so I don’t think it’s a joke. Who knows, maybe I’ll apply for my own. I’ve always wanted to see how the other half lives.

These last two were covered by former _flosser Ben Smith last summer…

7. Gerber Singles

gerber singlesPicture 74.pngSounds like something out of an April Fool’s Day press release—a baby food company releasing a version of its product for adults. Gerber Singles were no joke, though, and small jars containing fruits, vegetables, starters, and desserts appeared on store shelves in 1974. Clearly it wasn’t a good idea. Customers had no interest in eating Creamed Beef out of a baby food jar, and the name of the product, “Singles” couldn’t have helped either. As Business 2.0’s Susan Casey said, “they might as well have called it ‘I Live Alone and Eat My Meals From a Jar.’”

8. Smith & Wesson Mountain Bikes

Picture 55.pngSmith & Wesson is the largest handgun manufacturer in the United States, and have even made “this home protected by a Smith & Wesson security system” claims true with the release of a security system of sorts. Smart move. A less savvy extension? Introducing a mountain bike. First marketed to police officers, the bikes are now available to all consumers anxious to get their hands on a bike bearing the name of their favorite gun company. And the company is offering a big incentive: customers who add a handgun or set of handcuffs onto their bike purchase won’t get charged for shipping and handling.

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