Musuem Of Failure

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Welcome to the Museum of Failure, where brand fuck-ups combat the world’s glut of success stories!

Green Heinz ketchup? Fat-free Pringles? Colgate frozen lasagna? You don’t need to be an expert to know these products weren’t successful.

Which is why these creations, with dozens of others, feature in the new Museum of Failure, a wacky parade of rejected products from years gone by set up in the Swedish town of Helsingborg.

It’s the brainchild of 43-year-old curator and clinical psychologist Samuel West. The idea came to him while on vacation, and he quickly purchased the Internet domain name. West later realized he had accidentally misspelled “museum” — a sure sign the project would succeed.

“We know that 80 to 90 percent of innovation projects, they fail and you never read about them, you don’t see them, people don’t talk about them,” West says. “And if there’s anything we can do from these failures, is learn from them.”

Many items in the museum, which opened June 7, show companies’ attempts to diversify their brand. There’s Coca-Cola’s BlaK coffee beverage and Pepsi’s Crystal clear soda.

As for his subject matter? “I’d grown more and more tired of the success stories we are force-fed that are supposed to inspire us,” he explained. “Sure, they can be inspiring, but they don’t offer us much to learn from.”

So as an antidote he began a process of collecting historical innovations that tanked. For West it was important not to include exhibits that were once useful but became obsolete, but collect those that failed, for whatever reason, from the very start. He recalls it was “a pain in the arse” to source culturally dead objects such as a bottle of Harley Davidson perfume, or an Apple Newton MessagePad, purely because they never sold well enough to be ubiquitous among the collectors community.

“There’s a lot that marketers can learn from the museum,” he said. “There’s of course the classic [lesson] that brand overextensions usually don’t work. They were fatal mistakes for Colgate making frozen dinners, or [Swedish weapon manufacturer] Bofort making toothpaste.

“Then there are also subtle lessons to be learnt, like … being first to market isn’t always the best. Despite what your boss or the super duper hot shot executive thinks, sometimes it’s better to do a good job than be first.”

He added: “If you’re a brand manager and your brand – either in marketing or production – fucks up, own up to it. People forgive, but they don’t forgive if you don’t own up to it.”

( Via: The Drum & Washington Post)