- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2007

There are marketing lapses, such as Chevrolet’s introduction of its Nova model into Latin American countries, where the word meant “No go.” Then there are marketing calamities, such as the “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” idiot-savant gambit in Boston, wherein surreptitiously placed blinking light-boards caused a citywide bomb scare.

New Coke — Any soft-drink consumer who’s over 30 probably still has sense memory of Coca-Cola’s sickly-sweet concoction, introduced in 1985. So badly did New Coke flop that conspiracy theorists say it was a ploy to boost sales of “classic” Coke.

Irish Spring freebies — Don’t drop the soap — and don’t give it away, either. In 1998, an Irish Spring soap huckster made departing spectators at a Columbus, Ohio, professional soccer game feel positively dirty as he handed out free bars of antibacterial soap.

Pepsi Stuff — Accumulate enough “Pepsi Points” and earn yourself a real AV-8 Harrier jet, said a Pepsi Cola commercial in 1996. A joke, right? Someone forgot to tell then-21-year-old John Leonard, who persuaded five investors to pony up more than $700,000 to meet the “Pepsi challenge.” As lawsuits and countersuits flew, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon made the sensible point that it does not sell military jets to private citizens.

‘Funky fresh’ PlayStation — Internet sleuths quickly exposed a viral marketing campaign last year in which Sony paid for phony online videos and a blog with two guys singing, sometimes in hip-hop lingo, the praises of the handheld PlayStation Portable videogame console.

Contra IPod — Ironically mirroring Apple Computer’s unsuccessful 1985 attempt to brand PC-users as “lemmings,” SanDisk, which sells a portable MP3 player to rival Apple’s IPod, went for the jugular last year with a deceptive online ad designed to look like an employee’s personal blog. In it, “Eric” warns of “ISheep swarming through our cities.” Whoever just bought the 100-millionth IPod was, apparently, not dissuaded.


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