In about a thousand words I’m going to explain how I, the Curmudgeon, failed to be Adaptive and had a stupid thought. Really. I mean it!
It all starts in 1958.
In 1958 Ford Motor Company put all its weight behind a new product that was supposed to be the most awesome car ever. It was sold to the public as being slightly more awesome than having sex while mainlining pure cosmic energy during your flight to Valhalla on a Pegasus. After months of teasers the curtain was pulled back to reveal the Edsel.
The public, to their credit, took one look at this, the most market hyped vehicle of the era, and took a dump on it. Ford struggled along trying to salvage their mess through 1958, 1959, and 1960. Then they took it behind the barn and shot it. They lost “the equivalent of $2,756,449,772 in 2013 dollars“. Ouch!
Lest you think I’m maligning Ford I’ll remind you that when the financial world shit itself in 2008 Ford came out smelling like roses while GM and Chrysler became government squeak toys. Even so, the word “Edsel” remained synonymous with “market failure” for decades.
Finally, after 27 years of Edsel jokes, the Coca-Cola Company decided to go nuclear in what was known as “the cola wars”. (Just for the record, I remember 1985 and the “cola wars” really were a remarkably weird phenomenon.) Their secret weapon of mass destruction was New Coke. They’d done the impossible! They came up with something that unified the nation, a white hot loathing of all marketing executives and a desire to bury New Coke at Love Canal. (For the younger generation I’m not going to explain the reference. Check the link.)
Lest you think I’m maligning Coke I’d like to point out that the company reversed course in less than three months. Well done. Then they came back swinging until Pepsi was spitting blood. Huzzah! Like Ford, Coke outlasted its mistake and thrived.
There is a point, and I’m getting to it. But first I’d like to take a side trip to toss out a Curmudgeonly Gem of insight. Here goes:
“The free market is the greatest, most successful way for an economy to give us everything we want and make us all filthy rich while doing it. However, it’s not a flawless Utopian beam of truth. New Coke was not made by Stalin and Red Chinese slave labor didn’t crank out the infamous “toilet seat” Edsel grill. For-profit companies earnestly striving to dominate and crush their opponents sometimes faceplant horribly. Galt’s Gulch might have an Edsel in the parking lot.”
Ouch? Are the Ayn Rand people at my door? I hope not because they’re definitely armed and have no sense of humor.
Tomorrow I’ll get to the point. Unless I don’t.