Under the Influence

These major brands created the biggest product failures

Come take a walk through the Museum of Failure.
How about a Colgate beef lasagna for dinner? (Museum of Failure)
Listen to the full episode27:28

An unusual museum opened in Sweden a few years ago. It didn't contain art or sculptures or rare artifacts.

Instead, it houses a collection of failed products. It is the Museum of Failure.

The growing collection is made up of over 100 failed product stories. Mostly from big companies.

Strolling through the Museum of Failure, you would find flops like the Apple Newton, New Coke, Harley-Davidson Cologne and the Ford Edsel.

80-90% of new product launches fail. So to lower the risk, companies do trial runs. This week, we explore Test Markets - where companies launch new products in small towns to see if shoppers pay attention. We’ll tell the stories of successful product launches as well as a few notable product disasters. Hope you'll join us. 0:57

The museum's mission is not just to showcase failed products, but to teach the world - and organizations - that it is okay to learn from failure.

The Museum of Failure was created by an organizational psychologist named Dr. Samuel West. The museum's slogan: Come fail with us.

Dr. West said he got tired of glorifying all the successes in the business world, and instead, he wanted to glorify failure. He wanted to prove that innovation requires failure - and if you are afraid to fail, then you'll never innovate. Whether it is the failed Donald Trump board game, or blue ketchup, or Crystal Pepsi, West feels there is an important insight to be found in every failure.

The exhibit also has a confessional - where you can write down your own failure on a post-it note and stick it onto a giant board.

While the museum started in Sweden, it has a traveling show that has popped up in France, Shanghai and Toronto. The museum attracted so much attention in Los Angeles, a permanent location was installed there.

The Museum of Failure celebrates marketing missteps in all their glory. And considering 80-90 per cent of all new products fail, you can say one thing about the collection: they are certainly not "rare" artifacts.

That being said, the Museum of Failure recently closed its doors in Los Angeles. And the founder filed for bankruptcy.

It's a tough world out there.

The only thing standing between a new product and unrivaled fortune is risk.


For more stories about failed products, click or tap the "Listen" button above to hear the full Under the Influence episode. You can also find us on the CBC Radio app or subscribe to our podcast.


Under the Influence is recorded in the Terstream Mobile Recording studio, a 1969 Airstream trailer that's been restored and transformed into a studio on wheels, so host Terry O'Reilly can record the show wherever he goes.

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The Terstream Mobile Recording Studio. (Image Credit: Sidney O'Reilly)