Those are the conclusions of New York branding agency TippingSprung's 2006 survey of brand extensions, released last month. (By the way, don't you love the business name TippingSprung? It's the blended surnames of principals Martin Tipping and Robert Sprung, who I'm willing to bet dance a little jig every time they see Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point on the best-seller list for yet another week.)
Every year, TippingSprung partners with Brandweek to ask hundreds of branding experts to name the best and worst brand extensions introduced during the previous twelve months. (Read about last year's choices here.)
Winning top honors for 2006 as "the strategic extension that best represents the brand's core values" is the American Red Cross emergency radio (really more of a brand partnership--with radio manufacturer Eton--than a true brand extension). Also recognized in the "best" category: Snoop Dogg pet accessories, Budweiser barbecue sauce, Maxim (the lad mag) steakhouse, and the Vera Wang suite at the Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu, named for the wedding dress designer.
The real fun is to be found among the brand duds, including:
- Salvador Dalí deodorant stick ("so bad it's surreal," said Brandweek)
- Diesel Jeans wine (which fetches super-premium prices of $190 and up a bottle but still made everyone think of fumes rather than fumé)
- Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food (Chicken Soup for the Soul might do better in the cremation-urn business)
- Smackers Starburst bath and body collection ("Have you ever had Starburst stuck in your hair?" one survey respondent asked. "Removing it is a nightmare.")
The branding experts didn't care for singer Willie Nelson's foray into biodiesel fuel, saying, according to Brandweek, they wouldn't "trust their car's engine to the pot-smoking country star." I disagree. Who better than the man behind "On the Road Again" to get your motor running? And the product's name--BioWillie--is fresh, impudent, and memorable. In the U.S., anyway: proceed with caution in the U.K.