Are there any cases where superior products failed because of inferior advertising?

When I see news about product failures, it’s usually because the product sucks in some way, like it can’t actually do things as well as competing products or it breaks down more easily etc.

But I can’t recall a case where a truly excellent product failed just because it wasn’t advertised or marketed well enough. Are there any good examples?

Betamax vs VCR technology?


luxury brands typically don’t advertise, but I also don’t know how much money they make.

sonos, philips hue, come to mind

[Browncoat] Firefly [/Browncoat]


DC v AC electricity

(I don’t know whether one is actually better…)

I see that there’s an urban legend that Betamax refused to license porn movies which contributed to their downfall.

But more commonly I see that there were some trade offs, like Betamax having better quality video and audio but VHS being cheaper and having a much longer recording time of 3hrs vs 1 hr for Betamax.

Ferrari makes more money off their fan merchandise than the cars

I also know nothing about this - but I trust that Randall does:

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$3,498.00 in 2006? Wow those were crazy times.

I also read that for Betamax, Sony wouldn’t license to other companies? Does that mean only they could sell Betamax players? That would seem like an extremely foolish decision to me but maybe that’s in hindsight.

This came to mind.

Pretty sure this is true. Yes, they made a number of blunders after being first out of the gate, getting 100% market share with early adopters, and having superior video and audio quality. They did also stumble with only having a 1 hour format early. By the time they released longer formats, VCR’s had eaten much of the market share.

Now laserdisc, that’s where things were really at


How about those planes that can fly way faster than normal planes? I think this is what I’m thinking about: Concorde - Wikipedia

Well, it worked out OK for Apple. Probably back to the marketing?

Not sure where the “inferior advertising” is with the Concorde. Also, one crashed once.

:man_shrugging: I have no idea. Maybe if they’d advertised it better we could fly on those today instead of the slow planes we have now?

Laserdisc for your movies, and a Sony Minidisc for your tunes.

Who is the market for the Concorde? I mean, it’s all about trying to sell their planes to different airlines, I guess. But it wasn’t the advertising. It was mainly “can only fly between these six airports” that dragged down the Concorde market. Maybe make them a little quieter and less expensive to operate (there wasn’t THAT much market to fly a few hours shorter).

OK, Tucker 48.

Another superior product, not necessarily a victim of poor advertising, though. Needed more cash flow to get through the first hump, as is the case of most auto start-ups. (Bricklin, deLorean, Lordstown, etc.)

What CS needs to realize is that in any case he’s looking for, some other company starts better-marketing something similar (probably not “inferior”), and the first product just withers away. I’ll try to think of some.
Or I’ll just Google.
From Time Mag (ten biggest product flops), I see the “Arch Deluxe” from McD’s. Some really shitty advertising, where kids are shown not liking it, but not adults instead loving it. looks like a pretty good burger, superior in many ways to the shitty McD burgers they sell.
The Apple Newton MessagePad from 1993.
Clairol Touch of Yogurt Shampoo. While yogurt might be good for hair (making it a superior product), people didn’t want to put yogurt in their hair (making it a poor marketing strategy).

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From Harvard Business Review, which looked at 70 products that failed and the few general reasons why, here’s a couple of seemingly superior products with shitty advertising strategies:
Febreze Scentstories

Note: limited number of stories for free at that site.