Many brands are in decline. Some are on life support. A few are on a death watch. They aren’t expected to live more than a few years unless heroic efforts are made to resuscitate them.
Here are the 12 brands on my Brand Death Watch List for 2012:
General Motors is trying to sell this albatross. Problems with exchange rates, unpaid customs fees and the equivalent of Chapter 11 protection in Sweden has Saab trying to run on four flat tires. Sales declines were twice the US industry rate in 2009 and did not improve in 2010. This certainly isn’t helping GM as it struggles to become a profitable company.
The younger generation is just not that into her. You can only reinvent yourself so many times when it begins to get tired. And Madonna looks very tired, her face and body are shot. Being associated with A-Rod for 5 minutes certainly didn’t increase her stock. She should try to stay in the saddle, fully clothed, as she rides into the sunset. Her career is almost over.
Clothing Retailers: Old Navy
Hugh Hefner's twin girlfriends have left him, he looks like he’s dying and so is his magazine. Playboy’s circulation and readership peeked in the early 70’s (¼ of all college men were buyers). Playboy claimed that men were buying it for the well written articles written by famous authors. But we all knew that men were buying it for the great looking naked women. Along came competition in the form of Penthouse, Maxim, Hustler, easy access to pornographic videos and, simply put, a glut of free erotic material available on the internet.
24/7 Wall Street said that parent company Gap - which currently markets the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic brands - is “a three-brand company living in a two-brand body” and cannot continue to sustain all three in the midst of steep, across-the-board sales declines. Old Navy, which is the weakest brand, will most likely not survive. Call the Coast Guard.
Newspapers: The Boston Globe
After being acquired by the New York Times in 1993 this once proud regional newspaper entered into a seeming competition with its parent for who could publish the most left wing daily in the country. Unfortunately 60% of Globe readers and 70% of its advertisers are of a more middle of the road persuasion and got their revenge by dropping the Globe, and getting more and more news online. A recent hefty price increase hasn’t helped either. Circulation has fallen by 60% in the past 4 years. A classic case of brand suicide. The only thing keeping the paper going is its excellent sports coverage.
The Golden State has been on the brink of economic collapse for 3 years - it's deficit has reached a whopping $120 billion; bankruptcy filings increased by over 100 percent since 2007. The jobless claims also increased by more than 100 percent. There are tent cities in Sacramento, and people are packing up and leaving. The California magic, the days of surfers and beach parties are over. Even Hollywood movies are being made everywhere but Hollywood. What’s a person to do? Buy a warm coat and move to Boston.
Search Engines: Yahoo
You know things are bad when you blog your resignation as CEO of a major internet player and the company's stock price goes up! Yahoo never made the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and Google became the search engine of choice. Yahoo is left yodeling between Mt. Google and Mt. Microsoft.
Rental Cars: Budget
Avis Budget Group, Inc. says it will continue to operate both the Avis and Budget brands. With a sluggish travel industry and stiff competition Budget may not be in the budget. Give it another year.
Soft Drinks: 7-UP
50 years ago, 7-Up was the #3 brand in the country behind Coke and Pepsi when it had a loyal following and not much competition. In the 1980’s Coke introduced Sprite—and forced its bottlers to drop 7-Up in favor of Sprite. Along came Sierra Mist and a ton of competitors which further cut into 7-Up’s market share. Today the brand’s share is almost too small to count. If they can’t right the ship it will be 7-Down.
Talk Show Hosts: Rachel Maddow
When your show is about politics, and you are homely and left of center politically, what have you got? Declining viewers and some of the lowest ratings on television. She never had much brand equity coming out of the gate and it’s disappearing fast. Her performance on MSNBC election night was a joke. Fortunately, hardly anyone watched the channel all night.
Video Stores: Blockbuster
Blockbuster was the only game in town when they enjoyed a revenue sharing deal with Hollywood Studios that VHS movies would be “rental-only” before going on sale to the general public. Along came DVD’s. When Blockbuster didn’t extend the revenue sharing offer, the studios began direct selling of DVD’s at very user friendly prices. Next came Netflix, causing Blockbuster to do away with its highly profitable late fees, decimating profits. Now, direct downloading of movies eliminates the need to leave the comfort of your home. What to do with all those stores? Left in the digital dust.