MOST SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT LAUNCHES: The best and worst product launches

We asked a number of industry people and punters to pick the best and worst product launch of last year. Orange came out as a clear favourite, while the advertising for car launches still leaves a lot to be desired. Report by Mairi Clark

We asked a number of industry people and punters to pick the best and

worst product launch of last year. Orange came out as a clear favourite,

while the advertising for car launches still leaves a lot to be desired.

Report by Mairi Clark

Simon Clemmow Planning director, Simons Palmer

A ‘young’ 39, Simon Clemmow lives in London’s Baker Street. The thing

that describes his lifestyle best is his favourite band, Supergrass -

‘they are a bloody good band. I nearly put Oasis as my best product

launch, but I thought people would laugh at me’.

Clemmow’s choice of best product launch is Caffreys. ‘We do work for

Marstons in the beer market and we know how hard it is to establish a

niche. Caffreys broke the mould in the marketplace by creating a beer

that was neither lager nor bitter. The press campaign with the endline

‘Strong words softly spoken’ shows an incredible notion of heritage. It

was a triumph of pure marketing. The beer market is one where heritage

and authenticity lend a lot to it. It has to be the best I’ve seen for a

long time.’

His least favourite launch was for theVauxhall Vectra. ‘The launch ads

were a classic case of over-promise. I mean, ‘the car designed for the

new millennium’? Please. In the new millennium, there will have been a

car better than the Vectra launched a hundred times over. It could never

live up to its hype.’

Nick McMahon Co-founder, McMahon and Curtis

Nick McMahon, a 30-year-old architect, admits to being a workaholic.

‘Owning part of your own company tends to dominate your lifestyle,’ was

his answer when asked what he thought defined his lifestyle. However, he

did say that he enjoyed media, art and London. His aim in life is to do

what he likes.

McMahon thought Orange was a ‘very well put together launch. Hutchison

failed miserably with Rabbit and succeeded with Orange, it was a nice

interesting launch that made a lot of sense.

‘I have always liked Channel 4’s idents. The station has really managed

to sustain its core brand values over the years. Some of the recent BBC2

idents have been quite good, but, as far as I’m concerned, they are

definitely the poor relation to Channel 4’s.’

Merry Baskin Planning director, J. Walter Thompson

Merry Baskin lives in Notting Hill. She harbours a secret desire to go

and live in the country.

Her favourite launch campaign is WCRS’s work for Orange. She grew quite

close to the account when J. Walter Thompson held the Hutchison business

for three months in 1993. ‘I suppose I am more informed about the brand

than your average person,’ she admits. ‘As a result, I really admire

the way the agency executed the idea which so cleverly captured the

imagination. I thought the teaser poster campaign was best and that the

TV executions backed it up very nicely. Orange has done well in

developing the brand personality. To me, Orange is very user-friendly,

very human. There was definitely humanity in the advertising with the


There were no product launches that she particularly hated, but thought

that the Eurotunnel campaign was not up to standard. ‘I dislike it for

almost the exact same reasons that I like the Orange work.The success of

the tunnel has had phenomenally little to do with the advertising. It

has more than 40 per cent market share and, once the novelty has worn

off, it will need to get people to differentiate between it and Le

Shuttle. It needs to make more of the name and get the brand better


Adam Lury Managing partner, HHCL and Partners

Adam Lury, 39, declined to tell Campaign where he lives or what his

hobbies are, but did divulge that his star sign is Cancer - which means

that he is empathetic and that relationships are very important to him.

Lury believes that the Tesco Club Card was the best launch last year for

the simple fact that it was a brilliant idea. ‘The timing and initiative

was right. The idea that Tesco should get closer to its customers was

great. It proved that customer loyalty was uppermost in its mind. It was

such a perfect launch.’

He also thought that M&C Saatchi was a good launch, ‘if you could call

it that. It brought a lot of attention to what is essentially a small

sector of business. It got fantastic coverage from its PR initiative.’

Jackie Boulter Planning director, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Jackie Boulter, roughly 40, lives in Highgate. An avid tennis player and

keen sailor, she recently bought herself a boat.

Her favourite recent product launch was for Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust (an

AMV account). ‘It was such a good concept, to think about what part of a

pizza customers didn’t like. They always left the crust, as it was dry

and boring. Any product launch should satisfy the consumer, and Stuffed

Crust did. The advertising was phenomenally successful and sales for

Pizza Hut rose by 30 per cent, which did a lot for the Pizza Hut brand.

Consumers responded well, which also helps.

‘My bad launch is more of a general moan. Most of the car launches are

terrible. The Vectra and Peugeot spring to mind. They don’t conform to

the basic rules of a launch and they never tell me what’s new about the

product. They always tend to show the car in stunning locations, but all

I see is a different, maybe more expensive, car. They don’t meet my


Nick Kendall Head of account planning, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Nick Kendall, 35, lives in Putney Hill. His main passion is cooking.

Kendall’s favourite product launch isn’t really a product launch at all

- it’s film launches in general. ‘They do a brilliant job of making

themselves a ‘must-see’. You have to go and see a certain film because

of all the promotion around it. They create this momentum where you’re

waiting for a film to come out. They did that with Toy Story. They

managed to co-ordinate a launch with an event and orchestrate different

types of media. They’re like product launches in that way. If you

created the hype for a product, it would work.

‘Microsoft learned a lot from film launches and applied the knowledge to

the launch of Windows ’95. But it didn’t learn all the rules. I think

launches that are similar to film launches only work for a one-off

event. With Windows, you might not buy it straight away, you might take

years to buy it, and although you know about it now, it needs to do

something to keep the product in your mind.

‘We look with admiration at what Orange has done. It’s co-ordinated its

promotions in a branded way, even the free offers and promotions carry

its identity. Just different advertising is not enough, products and

brands have to be different. That very seldom happens, so I’m not

surprised that so many fail.’

Peter George Retail consultant

Peter George, 27, lives in Putney. His main interests are Birmingham

City and women.

The product launch he thought was best was for the Calvin Klein perfume,

CK One. ‘I liked the lack of gender bias and thought that the ads were

very stylishly done. It was probably the fact that it was the only

‘unisex’ perfume/aftershave on the market that ensured its success.

Consequently, there were a lot of people waiting for the perfume to

become available.

I didn’t think there was anything particularly great about the

advertising, just the mass of it. You couldn’t miss it, and that’s how a

product should launch.’

Controversially, he chose the launch of Microsoft’s Windows ’95 as the

one he liked least. ‘The music was excellent, really good, but the

advertising was too over-the-top. I think it forgot that it was

launching a software package - it got too self-righteous. You’d think

Windows ’95 would solve the world’s problems and the product just didn’t

live up to its advertising.’

Kar Lee Graphic designer

Kar Lee is a 28-year-old whose love for motorbikes and computer games

seems to overshadow everything else in his life. He lives in

Peterborough and works for a motorbike magazine.

‘I thought the launch for Sega Saturn [the 32-bit competitor to the Sony

PlayStation] was one of the best I’d seen. Sega did a really good teaser

campaign with mysterious ‘S’ symbols appearing in the press. I never

knew what it meant until the main part of the campaign came out.

‘I liked this teaser element because it was subtle and gave you space

and time to think about it. That idea was so simple but strong.

‘Sega Saturn’s launch wasn’t as successful as the Sony PlayStation’s

launch, but it could have been if it had persevered a bit more. I don’t

think it had enough budget for such an ambitious campaign.’


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