#FAIL! A Round-Up Of The Most Memorable Food And Drink Product Development Fails


#1 – Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water

Despite beverage company Coors advertising their beer as ‘cold brewed with pure rocky mountain spring water’ for decades, a stake in the growing bottled water market was not to be. In 1990, Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water was released into the US market. Rather than rebranding, Coors placed their logo in the centre of the bottle, directly targeting their existing beer-drinking audience. Unsurprisingly, it turned out that Coors drinkers were reluctant to drink anything from them without a percentage, and so the products were taken off the market in 1997.

#2 – Maxwell House Microwaveable Coffee

Another 1990 product development disaster saw General Foods launch Maxwell House ‘ready to drink’ microwaveable coffee – a ‘convenient new way to enjoy the rich taste of Maxwell House Coffee’. In theory, the customer could buy the product at the supermarket, and simply microwave it. This would have been all well and good, were microwaves and aluminium foil compatible… The foil-lined packaging meant it was necessary to first pour the coffee into a mug before heating, rendering the product’s main selling point invalid – it would be no quicker nor more convenient than pouring a cup of coffee fresh from a coffeemaker.

#3 – Thirsty Cat! And Thirsty Dog! Bottled Water For Pets

Levels of pet-pampering reached an all-time high in 1994 when picky cats and dogs were given the opportunity to enjoy their own flavoured, filtered water. Product developers at ‘Thirsty Cat! and Thirsty Dog!’ decided that many pampered pooches and favoured felines were refusing to drink ordinary tap water, and instead, required a more sophisticated beverage. Coming in Crispy Beef flavour for dogs and Tangy Fish for cats, the water was lightly carbonated and fortified with vitamins to maximise taste and nutritional benefits. Advertisers even claimed the liquid to be fit for human consumption – just Barking mad! Some consumers believed the whole thing was a joke, and predictably, it failed to take off.

#4 – Don’t Mess With Success – Coca-Cola Rebranding

In what is commonly known as the ‘marketing blunder of the century’, Coca-Cola responded to competition in the 1970s and 80s by replacing their original Coca-Cola with a reformulation known as ‘New Coke’. Instead of the positive reaction they anticipated, they were met with uproar and public outrage. Consumers even took part in protests to bring back the Old Coke, and in 1985 the old formula was relaunched. The age-old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ comes to mind.

#5 Kellogg’s Breakfast Mates

Another fine example of ‘did they even think it through?’ comes in the form of Breakfast Mates, a cereal range designed by Kellogg’s to increase convenience by removing the need for fresh, refrigerated milk. The all-in-one product saw each box of cornflakes; fruit loops; mini wheats and frosted flakes come packed with milk and a spoon.

Two things were not considered – although it did not require refrigeration, when given the choice, who wants to drink warm UHT milk? Secondly, although it was marketed as being for children, the packaging was less than child-friendly, often resulting in spillages.   If you’ve got a new, innovative product and are looking for help with launching your range and avoiding these fails, then call us on 01803 203387 or email at [email protected].

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