When Harley-Davidson made motorcycle boots and leather jackets, that made sense. When the rugged brand started hawking cake decorating kits, that made less sense. And it made us laugh. Here are a five other confused brand extensions we heartily endorse.
1. Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Dog Food
The Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books have been bestsellers since the first one was published in 1993. Various special editions followed, including Chicken Soup for the Dog and Cat Lover's Soul in 1998 and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul a year later. Seeing a gap in the book-based pet food market, the brand decided to launch dog and cat foods named for the book in the early 2000s. While the website for the company contains answers to questions such as "Where are your foods made?" and "Do you use any chemical preservatives?", it doesn't answer the more important questions like, "Why does a book need a tie-in pet food?" and "What if my soul is vegetarian?"
2. Heinz All-Natural Cleaning Vinegar
Every kitchen has a bottle of vinegar. The versatile liquid is a staple in dressings and middle school volcano experiments. But when the popular Household Hint columnist Heloise showed that it could be used to remove rust, kill weeds, and clean a variety of surfaces and materials, vinegar makers started salivating. Heinz, for one, saw the magic liquid's potential, and expanded into the household cleaner market.Released in 1991 in four test markets and marketed as "Heloise's Most Helpful Hint," the Cleaning Vinegar had twice the acid content of regular white vinegar and was lemon scented. Needless to say, the product was a failure. Consumers were confused by the similar looking bottles and the specific purpose of the solution, and the product never made it beyond the test markets.
3. Dunkin Donuts Pizza
In a bid to move beyond donuts and coffee, Dunkin Donuts has been flirting with selling made-to-order personal pizzas in a handful of markets since late 2006. While the pizzas may be delicious, consumers are still wrapping their heads around buying pizzas at a donut shop. While we're not sure who convinced DD to encroach on Pizza Huts personal pan territory, we'd love to see more products. Dunkin Donuts burritos? Or maybe Dunkin Donuts track shoes (what better way to tie in to their America to run on Dunkin slogan).
4. Gerber Singles
Sounds 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.'" Gerber's baby food for adults ranks up there with New Coke as one of the worst brand failures of all time.
5. Smith & Wesson Mountain Bikes
Smith & Wesson are 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. Of course, the company is offering a whole lot incentive: Customers who add a set of handcuffs or some handguns onto their bike purchase won't get charged for shipping and handling!
Know of any stranger brand extensions? Drop us a line in the comments.
ed. note: We stand corrected! We've changed the Dunkin Donuts pizza section to reflect the reader comments.