10 spectacular NZ FAIL! launches

The Herald on Sunday list 10 spectacular FAIL!’s in NZ. Not surprisingly Jetstar is number 1.

1 – Jetstar New Zealand: not delivering the difference

Jetstar’s entry into the domestic airline market has been bedevilled by bad press, with complaints about baggage costs, delays and cancellations and rigid adherence to check-in times.

2 – Michael Hill Shoes: not sticking to knitting

 Shoes just didn’t fit.”

3 – Chrysler Dodge: not going local

Dodge was launched here in 2007, debuting with the Dodge Nitro, a big, muscular 4WD aimed at families; the Avenger, a mid-sized sedan; and the Caliber, a Corolla-sized hatch.

Motoring writer Jacqui Madelin says, “They were hoping to sell at mainstream prices to mainstream buyers they’d attract on the strength of their brash American good looks. But poor standards of build quality were apparent with the early cars. The performance didn’t live up to the muscular image.

4 – Planet Hollywood: passe?

It was a caricature of Americana: Jaws in the bathroom; spaceship interior; a cryogenically-frozen Sylvester Stallone suspended overhead. Sky City Leisure brought Planet Hollywood to Auckland in 1999, and closed it less than four years later because of what it called “changing consumer trends”. Says Richards, “I don’t think we buy into that American culture perhaps the same way we didn’t in the 60s. It’s a little passe.”

5 – Clayton’s: not in good taste

It was that brand name that rebelled against its makers: it entered the Kiwi vernacular, but not because we loved the product. Clayton’s was a non-alcoholic, non-carbonated drink coloured and packaged to resemble bottled whisky. Heavily marketed in Australia and New Zealand in the 1970s and 1980s, its slogan was “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink”. It never took hold – apparently not many people liked the taste. But the word “Clayton’s” became shorthand for a compromise that satisfies no one, or something that’s the same in everything but name.

6 – Russell Crowe’s singing career: not playing to your strengths

7- The Football Kingz/New Zealand Knights: no-win situation

Formed in 1999 by the Australian Football League, the Football Kingz were meant to professionalise and popularise football in the land of union and league. After a promising first season, fan support and credibility nose-dived, with poor results and off-field ownership wranglings.

The club’s image was so shoddy that when it was sold in 2004 the new owners decided to rebrand as New Zealand Knights. But mud stuck.

8 – NZ Idol stars: not taken seriously

Ben Lummis, Michael Murphy, Rosita Vai – in their moment of NZ Idol glory all were pegged for great things. Season-one winner Lummis came the closest. His 2004 single They Can’t Take That Away spent seven weeks at number one on the charts, and his album sold more than 30,000 copies.

But label Sony BMG dumped him after three months. At the time, Lummis’ manager Paul Ellis said the singer was despondent about making what Ellis called “the worst-sounding album of my entire career” with a company that didn’t care.

Irene Gardiner says Kiwi Idol winners seemed doomed to not have pop success. “It’s a weird quirk of New Zealand that I don’t understand. All the Australian and American ones have done well,” she says. Her theory is the Idol brush erases musicians’ credibility, and our music industry is set up well for bands and singer-songwriters, but not for mainstream, middle-of-the-road pop artists. “I don’t think the talent level was necessarily the issue. It was a combination of the nature of the entertainment industry and something about the public perception of what being an Idol winner meant.”

9 – Warehouse Australia: not Ocker enough

The Warehouse was a household name in New Zealand when it expanded across the Tasman. But that was irrelevant in Australia. The Warehouse acquired the Australian Clint’s Crazy Bargains and Silly Solly’s retail chains in 2000, stamping their mark and building new stores. But the Aussies didn’t take to the Red Shed in nearly the same numbers as Kiwis had, and Warehouse Australia struggled to break even. The Warehouse Group sold its Australian operation in 2005 to Australian Discount Retailers (ADR), which renamed the stores Sam’s Warehouse. (In a twist, the Kiwi connection returned in March, when Kathmandu co-founder Jan Cameron bought ADR.)

10 – City Life: ahead of its time?

It was written by James Griffin, the co-writer of juggernaut hit Outrageous Fortune. It launched the TV careers of actors such as Sunrise presenter and theatre star Oliver Driver. It was pitched as New Zealand’s answer to Melrose Place and This Life. But TVNZ urban soap opera City Life, which debuted in 1996, was taken off air part-way through its first season. (The series has since been screened in full, but in the late night or mid-morning hinterland.)