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Business Failures

Every Monday we have our law firm attorney meeting. We also have regularly scheduled paralegal meetings. The topics don’t stray far from the same consistent message: Keep doing the fundamentals and the returns will follow.

Recently, I came across an interesting list in the Business Pundit titled  “The 25 Worst Business Failures in History“. Some on the list, like Enron, were very understandable. At some point, dishonesty will catch up. Others simply did not keep up.

I have attached the list for you, to see how many of these businesses you can even remember.

One listed is the Edsel. It has been identified as one of the greatest advertising  failures of all time. Ford came out with the Edsel car, named after Edsel B. Ford who was the son of founder Henry Ford.edsel car

After about a year, they had lost an estimated $250 million dollars. By today’s standards, that would be about $2 billion dollars.  When I take a trip down failure lane, there are good reminders to “not take my eye off the ball”; “Stay the course:, “Sweat the details” and probably a lot of other thrown about slogans. Yes,  good reminders that include taking care of the client.

DID YOU KNOW that in Kentucky it is against the law to carry ice cream in your back pocket. Do you think there was a real problem with that?

For pic o’ day, here is a lion who is fooling no one!

Lion hair

Do You Drive a Windstar?

     We bought milk the other day and it just wasn’t good. Just for future reference, the grocery store will usually reimburse you for bad milk. It’s great to just be able to take a product back that causes you problems. Maybe the cows were just having a bad day.

     Sometimes when a product is a problem, they recall the product, change the name and move on. Lately, businesses have been using a different approach. I remember when there were exploding tires and a lot of litigation that involved plant employees describing how Firestone had knowledge of tire separation issues. They made it through the litigation and, for a period of time, focused on their Bridgestone tire division. Now, all is forgotten and Firestone Tires is still a name brand.

     In 2009, the diet pill, Hydroxycut, was recalled because it it was linked to liver failure. Instead of removing it from the market, they kept marketing it under “Hydroxycut Advanced with Antioxidants”. Now, we don’t remember much about the liver damage (unless you happen to be a lawyer). Instead, we see these pictures of people who claim to have lost weight from this amazing pill. In addition, the photos seem to suggest that you get a set of “six pack abs”. At least that is what all the photos show.

     Do you remember the Cambridge Diet. For a while, it was the “in thing” to drink this shake for meals and lose weight because you were only consuming 400 calories. There is still a version of it on the market but because people suffered heart issues from not getting enough nutrients, it went from diet to fad. I was surprised with the “head shaking” information that the formula was sold by the original diet developer, Dr Howard of Cambridge University, to a marketer named Jack Feather.  

     The point of this is that business has learned that you can overcome problems with marketing. Watch Toyota because they are doing it. Watch BP. I’m sure we are going to be bombarded with ads that tell us all the special things  that they do for us. Only politicians seem unable to overcome negative actions with advertising. See Gary Hart’s Presidential campaign. Also, I’m not sure that Governor Mark Sanford has a political future either.

     Today, USA Today reports an ongoing investigation regarding the Ford Windstar minivan. Ford last sold the Windstar in 2007. According to Government officials for NHTSA, there have been 234 complaints about rear-axle failure. So far, there has not been an ordered recall but based on this large amount of complaints, that still is a possibility.

     I blog about this because Ford has managed to move beyond this and have replaced this product with crossover SUV’s. There really has not been much discussion about the Windstar Minivan problems, nor much of a real warning to those who still drive a used Windstar. Instead, Ford focused on its Ford Flex and Windstar is like something in the rearview mirror. What about all those people still driving families around in Windstar minivans. Sometimes, it’s just worth doing a reminder blog on a product that is still out there and still causing problems.

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