When it comes to brand extensions, sometimes more is less. Much less.
That's the verdict in the August 7 issue of Business Week online, which takes aim at some concepts that make you wonder what those marketing guys and gals were smoking in the brainstorming session.
Top of the list for 2005: the Harley-Davidson cake-decorating kit.
It may well be true, as I've heard, that Harley-Davidson is the only brand consumers are willing to tattoo on their private parts. But cake decorating? That's a stretch. (To see a photo of a decorated H-D theme cake, view the slide show in the Business Week article.)
The list was compiled by Tipping Sprung, the New York branding agency, which polled 449 marketing executives (agency and in-house).
Some of the misfires were clearly destined for failure: Hooters Air, Jaguar X-Type (a rebranding of the European mass-market Mondeo), Heinz All-Natural Cleaning Vinegar, Maxim hair color for men, and the Virgin Group's venture into bridal gowns.
But one brand extension that made the "worst" list actually succeeded in the marketplace, which makes me wonder about the criteria for inclusion. The Barbie Luxe collection--"Barbie-themed clothing and accessories in adult sizes," the very thought of which makes this adult gag--did well when introduced last October at the trendy Fred Segal Flair boutique in L.A. In fact, the Barbie jewelry line, which includes a $500 tiara, has had to be restocked three or four times at various stores. Yes, it's another sign of the decline and fall of Everything We Hold Sacred, but it's hardly a marketing flop.
Results of the 2006 Tipping Sprung survey will be released in the fall.
Hat tip to Dave Ibsen at 5 Brands Before Lunch.