Two for Tuesday: Infamous Reversals

Sometimes, it’s not a bad idea to switch a brands style—staying updated with the latest and the greatest trends. However, when brands change their identity, it can bring on a world of problems for them, and their only option (besides plummeting sales), is to retreat. On this Two for Tuesday, we wanted to look back at times where a company started a new initiative only to quickly change their minds and reverse the decision, returning us to the status quo.

New Coke

Perhaps the most well-known of all such reversals, New Coke was Coca-Cola’s attempt to change things up while Pepsi was eating away at their market share, especially with younger consumers. The new product featured a sweeter formula with a new logo and was released in 1985 to much fan fare and advertising. Despite being preferred over both Old Coke and Pepsi in blind taste tests, the public largely turned against New Coke because of emotional attachment to the old brand. So, within 77 days, Coca-Cola returned to the original formula with the newly rebranded Coca-Cola Classic.

The re-release resulted in better sales than ever before. Conspiracy theorists have speculated that what looks like a marketing disaster was actually an elaborate plan by Coca-Cola to get its audience to appreciate a product they were taking for granted by intending to re-release original Coke all along. New Coke was renamed Coke II and sold alongside Coca-Cola Classic before slowly being phased out.

JCPenney

JCPenney made some bold changes in recent years that they’ve had to reverse. It began in 2011 when Ron Johnson, former Senior Vice President of Retail Operations at Apple and one of the brains behind the extremely successful Apple Stores, was made CEO.

His tenure saw sweeping changes at the company. A new logo was introduced and a prominent ad campaign featuring Ellen DeGeneres announced the changes that involved eliminating the coupon system that had so defined JCPenney in the past and a move to a new discount system. The shift alienated JCPenney’s core customers, and the company’s financial well-being took hit after hit each quarter. Finally, in April 2013, Ron Johnson was fired from his position in response to the fall the company had taken.

 

 

Not long after, JCPenney began its reversal campaign with an apology video. The video asserts that the company is listening to its customers now and asks them to come back, which some critics have called a desperate plea. Within weeks, the company released a “Thank You” video that seemed to prematurely assert that its customers have returned. The videos even feature a new logo that largely resembles the company’s pre-Johnson logos. Only time will tell if this strategy to erase the past year will work; but, with this “Thank You” video, the company seems confident it can turn things around.

Cover Photo Source: tiverylucky / Shutterstock.com

Kaz is a Junior Executive at SJG. He earned BAs in English Writing and Business Marketing at Illinois Wesleyan University and is currently pursuing an MA in Advertising at The University of Texas at Austin. Outside the office, Kaz consumes gobs of media including but not limited to books, magazines, music, movies and television.