Is it possible? Maybe. The current ad campaign featuring Tim’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich is certainly proof that they are willing to give the lunch menu a push and make a solid attempt to draw customers away from McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants.
But it’s also possible that the brand (who recently made the decision to cut many other items from their menu in an attempt to refocus and streamline) could wind up ignoring their core brand community by putting too many of their eggs in one new basket. McDonald’s is already fighting back in the Canadian Coffee Wars and Tim Hortons taking their eye off the ball could come with serious consequences.
With a little research we were able to look back at some terrible brand extension ideas that have come and gone because they were bad ideas.
Frito Lay Lemonade
If I say Frito Lay and the first thing you think is lemonade, you’re in the minority. But it was a real thing. Frito Lay developed and sold the lemonade because they realized that people needed a refreshing drink to go with their salty snacks. It was an attempt to capture sales in the entire snack experience. But it backfired and Frito Lay went back to doing what their brand community wanted them to do, sell snack food and leave the drinks to someone else.
Life Savers Soda
Another beverage gone wrong. Life Savers candy have been popular since their inception in 1912. But in the 1980s someone had the bright idea to expand the operation and sell a Life Saver Soda. The drink was flavoured to match popular Life Savers candies, but was also too thick and far too sugary which lead to its discontinuation in 1989. The popular description people gave was that having a Life Saver Soda was like drinking melted Life Savers candies. Luckily the brand didn’t lose their market standing on candy shelves and are still selling strong!
Colgate Kitchen Entrees
The company that is famous for selling you more than 20 variations of toothpaste decided that it wanted more. In 1982 the brand introduced Colgate Kitchen Entrees in hopes that the brand community would embrace them because of brand familiarity. Colgate thought that it could break into the frozen TV dinner market and capitalize on their brand recognition. This is no doubt that this is a strange brand extension and I don’t think that anyone is surprised that this failed completely and never left the US.
With McDonald’s the main target of Tim’s new lunch campaign it makes sense to look back at what was a failed venture by the Golden Arches to expand their menu and brand. I remember McDonald’s pizza as being delicious (I was 12) but I also remember sitting down at a table and waiting for our pizza every time we ordered it. McDonald’s is known for speed of service, and pizza was the total opposite.
Smith & Wesson Mountain Bikes
To prove that not all curious brand extensions come from the food and drink industry, we present Smith & Wesson bicycles. Unlike the other examples we’ve looked at, S&W mountain bikes are on the market right now and targeted to police and other law enforcement agencies. The brand extension from firearms to bicycles began in 2002 which already makes it longer running than the rest of the examples we’ve shown today and proves that sometimes a stretch on the brand can actually work.
Brand expansions and extensions aren’t always a failure, and they aren’t always a bad idea. But simply slapping a popular brand name on a new product will not guarantee success. Just ask Bic about their line of underwear.