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Advertising on toilet paper one of history’s greatest flops
Aug 30, 2012 | 1537 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

By BRYAN GRAY

The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.

In a capitalist society, we look fondly at “idea men,” scientists and entrepreneurs who challenge our thinking. But not all ideas are good.

USA Today recently published as story on a business start-up by two Michigan college students named finalists for Entrepreneur magazine’s College Entrepreneurs of 2012 contest. The two even received a state business grant of $3,000 to pay patent expenses.

The concept? Star Toilet Paper, which prints advertisements on the sheets of paper. The advertising is cheap ($99 for 20,000 sheets) and no doubt the advertisers have a captive audience. But somehow I don’t think a coupon offering me 20 percent off a pizza or one free game of bowling would appeal to me while I sat on the toilet contemplating life.

“No one has ever tried to do this,” said one of the founders.

I say, “For good reason!” History is filled with flops. Here are a few:

  • Ford Edsel (late 1950s): Barely 100,000 ever sold, losing $350 million.
  • Susan B. Anthony $1 coin: Look at the confusion on a clerk’s face when you try to use one.
  • Disney movie John Carter: You saw it? So you’re that one guy!
  • Last year’s season ending losses for the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox Р Both were seemingly headed to the play-offs, but forgot that the season was one week longer than they played!
  • 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin: The butt of jokes, she made Dolly Parton look presidential.
  • New Coke (1985): It replaced regular Coca-Cola Р for less than three months.
  • Watergate break-in: It brought down a U.S. President, and the thieves found nothing except maybe a recipe for Democratic wine coolers.
  • The recent biography from John Edwards’ mistress: Bad guy, bad woman. Why read it?
  • Milli Vanilli: They won a Grammy for an album on which they didn’t sing. That didn’t help their credibility on the concert circuit.
  • Steve Jobs-created Lisa computer (1983-1985): This costly Apple product has a Utah connection; 2,700 unsold units were buried in a Utah landfill.
  • Ten-Cent Beer Night: The 1974 promotion by the Cleveland Indians led to overindulgence, a riot on the field, and the Indians forfeiting the game.
  • Jon Huntsman’s 2012 presidential bid: Don’t worry Jon, you were looking for Republican moderates who expired with the dinosaurs. If it makes you feel better, former Texas Gov. John Connally spent $11 million in 1980 and got only one delegate for the GOP convention.
  • And then there was the marriage between Mamas and Papas singer Michelle Phillips and actor Dennis Hopper. She described the short hook-up as the “happiest eight days of my life.”
I have a suspicion that Star Toilet Paper will join these famous flops. Then again, what do I know? I thought Utahns were too bright to oust Sen. Bob Bennett and elect Mike Lee!
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