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Billion Dollar Baby: the rise and fall of Orbitz

The untold, inside story of Orbitz — the weirdest drink of the 1990s and maybe the single worst beverage launch of all time. Doomed to failure, or way ahead of its time?
(Ben Shannon/CBC)

The untold, inside story of Orbitz — the weirdest drink of the 1990s and maybe the single worst beverage launch of all time. Doomed to failure, or way ahead of its time? 

This week, the true story of a product launch so promising and innovative and so epically disastrous that, even 20 years later, its lessons still reverberate through the beverage aisle.Time travel back to the 90s with host Chris Nuttall-Smith as he uncovers the secret history of Orbitz, aka the "drink with the floating gunk."

  • Former CEO Doug Mason, Marketing VP Jonathan Cronin, and Operations VP Tom Koltai share the inside story of how their billion dollar baby went bust. 
  • Food scientist Ron Kendrick explains just how tough it was to get those little neon coloured balls to stay afloat.
  • Marketing guru Jeff McLean talks about how Orbitz broke all the rules to appeal to the coveted youth market.
  • Beverage industry "grandpa" Barry Nathanson details exactly what it takes for a new drink to make it...and why so many don't.

Plus: pop culture writer and 90s aficionado Jen Chaney on why a soft drink that looked like a lava lamp was peak 90s. 


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