During the American Civil War, J P Morgan bought defective rifles from the army, and sold them back to the government as new, non-defective weapons. Not only did he make a profit on the sale, but he actually pre-sold the weapons to the government and used that money to buy the bad guns in the first place. It worked because the rifles were simply “re-branded” so they weren’t immediately recognized for what they were. It’s a tactic that is still used to this day. It doesn’t always work, though, and rebranding projects can sometimes damage an otherwise respected name. Perhaps most famously among Americans was Coke’s release of “New Coke” in 1985. After sales lagging behind Pepsi, they decided to change the formula and introduced New Coke. Ultimately, the brand was a flop, not because it tasted bad but just because people were opposed to changing the formula in the first place. They re-introduced the old formula and saved the company, and New Coke was re-branded Coke II in the 90′s, but nobody cared. It was essentially a dead product. The formula still lives on, though; they replaced the sugar with aspartame and continue to sell the “New Coke” formula under the name “Diet Coke”.
What other colossal rebranding failures just make you shake your head?
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