Sunday, August 08, 2004

New Coke Fans?

I don't have much to write about today, but I was talking to someone about '80s culture (yes, that's all I ever talk about) and the subject of New Coke came up, as it inevitably does in such discussions. Here's the thing: my main memory of the New Coke era is that I tasted New Coke once and thought it tasted better than Old Coke. I remember thinking, gee, no wonder they changed it; this really is a lot better. I for one was disappointed that they changed it back. But as various histories of the New Coke blunder have confirmed, it didn't really matter whether the new product tasted better, compared to the anger the change aroused in "loyalists" and the bad publicity that would ensue. I've always thought it was interesting that the big flops, failures, blunders rarely come with the very worst products or movies or TV shows -- they come with products that may actually be pretty good, or at least not bad. The company, lured into a false sense of security by the decent quality of the product and the decent reaction of focus groups and test audiences, push the product with all their might -- and the public pushes back. You rarely have that kind of bomb with a really terrible product, because a really terrible product would not get that kind of push. This is also why the most disastrous movies are those that don't necessarily look bad when they're first cut together, e.g. Heaven's Gate.

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