5 Marketing Catastrophes

All absolutely 100% guaranteed true.

Fudge Packers
Even Keebler's spokes-elves couldn't save this fudge cracker. Intended to be "packed" in a briefcase or lunchbox, the first and only TV buy featured boy scouts and businessmen holding up packages to the camera and proclaiming, "I'm a Fudge Packer!" Informed of their mistake, embarassed brand managers immediately pulled the product. (1982)

A "Clue"-derived board game based on the Kennedy Assasination. While the premise was fine ("It was Oswald with a repeat-action bolt rifle in the Book Depository." "No! It was the CIA with Multiple-repeat weapons behind the Green Fence!"), making light of a presidential assasination was not well-received in the marketplace, and the product was quickly dropped by major distributors. (1993)

A rubbery, sculptable gross-out goo marketed to kids. Sales dropped 99.96% after AP News revealed that the product's main ingredient was the surgically-extracted ejaculate of Chinese political prisoners. (1996)

Grape Fantasy Carbonated Beverage
The print campaign for this purple beverage featured 5 handsome, dangerous-looking men, standing over a half-dressed, bound, blindfolded woman. With her free hand, she held a cylindrical can shooting forth frothy soda. The tagline: "All women have Grape Fantasies." Immediately discontinued. (1980)

Hi, Colonic!
Marketers intended to tap the publicity over colonic-advocating celebrities like Princess Diana with this non-prescription home colonic kit. The market was unprepared. The campaign, featuring cartoon spelunkers crawling through an animated colon, wielding mops and buckets, met with derision. After brisk initial sales, Hi, Colonic! bottomed out. (1995)




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

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Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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