When brand extensions go wrong

Some major product fails from Harley-Davison, Apple, and DuPont.


November 10, 2020

I’ve been instructed by my editor to stop making jokes about a certain South African entrepreneur.

So, you’ll have to put your thinking hats on for this next sentence: A certain electrical vehicle maker that rhymes with “Resla” released its own tequila last week.

The “Resla” tequila sold out immediately, following in the footsteps of a previous “Resla” short shorts apparel drop.

Is there anything this EV car company can’t sell?

We can’t know for sure, but let’s dig through corporate history’s worst brand extension mistakes to see where the limits might be:

  • Harley-Davidson cologne: In 2019, Harley-Davidson sold ~$238m in merch (~5.2% of revenue). Not among the sales: a failed cologne from the mid-1990s that cost $60 a bottle, with names like Black Fire, Destiny, and Hot Rod.
  • Apple’s game console project: In partnership with Japanese game maker Bandai, Apple released the Pippin. It cost 2-3x more than other consoles and only sold 42k units (vs. 350k Nintendos in the first 3 days after the N64 console was released in 1996).
  • DuPont made a shoe (LOL): On a mission to make a leather substitute, the chemical giant created Corfam. DuPont spent $100m to make the material and for some reason decided that dress shoes were the move. Corfam had basically zero breathability, and stank feet was almost certainly a problem.

If “Resla” can do high heels, it’s game over.

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