Hooters Energy Drink: Branding Gone Bad

I just read an interesting article in Brandweek called A Look Back: Line Extensions That Crossed the Line in ’07. The article reports on a survey of Brandweek readers about different product line extensions. The respondents picked Hooters Energy Drink as one of the worse product line extensions.

Laura Ries, president of Ries & Ries brand consultancy, Atlanta had a great quote in the article:

Hooters doesn’t stand for energy. It stands for boobs and chicken

But this eye-catching drink wasn’t the only bad brand extension named in the article. Some of the other new brands that were panned included:

  • Precious Moments Coffins
  • Humane Society Dog Lovers Wine Club
  • Bumble Bee Prime Fillet Chicken Breasts
  • Trump Steaks
  • Trump Home Rugs
  • Danny DeVito’s Premium Limoncello 

In contrast to those mistakes, the article also mentioned some brand extensions that respondents thought made sense:

  • PetSmart PetsHotel
  • Huggies Little Swimmers sunscreen
  • Disney’s Fairy Tale wedding gowns
  • American Idol Camp
  • ASPCA pet travel and safety products
  • La-Z-Boy outdoor furniture
  • Curves cereal
  • Newman’s Own wine

My take: Understanding your brand is a core component of running a business. If these firms truly understood their brands, then many of them would not have made such odd decisions about extending their product lines.

In a previous post that described four management styles, I labeled executives that didn’t understand their brand as either “psychotic” or “impulsive.” In either case, it’s not how you want to run your business.Your brand needs to be so crystal clear to everyone in the company that it guides every decision — from the millions of “little” decisions about how every customer is handled during every interaction to the handful of “big” decisions like how to extend your product line.

Think of your brand as defining the promises that you make to your customers; great customer experience can only come when you deliver on those promises (the lessons we learned in kindergarten still apply in business). That’s why one of the key principles of Experience-Based Differentiation is: “Reinforce brands with every interaction, not just communications.”

The bottom line: Your brand is a critical corporate asset; invest it wisely. 

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey.

Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum.

My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers.

I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

2 thoughts on “Hooters Energy Drink: Branding Gone Bad”

  1. I’ve seen worse, in Japan i drank Pocari Sweat, intended to be sweet but they didn’t want to be banal and they did not have an english dictionary with them. So, if you are an English speaker, you but a can of Sweat and you don’t sweat anymore.

  2. In response to adsimple:

    Pocari Sweat is massively successful in Japan… 😐

    However since it’s evident you aren’t even the least bit proficient in English or Japanese, I’ll cut you some slack.

    The makers intentionally used “Sweat”, signifying a drink for athletes. The Japanese use the English word “Sweet” in many products as the word is a crossover word, and readily understood by all. Your explanation is wrong.

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