Back of the net: 6 product re-launches to remember
Earlier this month, BBC Two announced it would be bringing back Norwich’s most egomaniacal local radio DJ, Alan Partridge, and cult dark comedy, The League of Gentlemen. This got us thinking resurrections, and how hard it is to update anything.
Despite our reservations as to how these iconic TV hits can successfully return, in periods of trouble and strife- North Korea, Brexit, Trump- people do have a habit of harking back to more rose-tinted times. With all that in mind we put our heads together to consider the best product re-launches, and came up with six that managed to achieve the almost impossible goal; of making the old seem (almost) brand new.
Launched in 1998 by print giant Emap, Heat was supposed to be a men’s weekly devoted to entertainment, on lovely glossy paper. Spending a small fortune on promoting the
title, with hopes of selling 100,000 per issue, the idea flopped in an epic way. Believing they still had something worth working on, those responsible repurposed the formula, this time targeting women, and Heat remains one of the most read publications in its sector.
The market leader when it comes to comic, graphic novel, board game and toy trade publications, despite ICV2.com‘s success owner Adam Ghahramani understood his platform needed a major update, but could not afford to lose its core audience. A subtle redesign, server improvement, embedded Google Search function and tighter approach to content direction all proved a major boon, boosting traffic by 15% in one month, cutting running costs by 1/4, and increasing ad sales.
One of the most famous re-launches in recent memory was actually an out-and-out rebrand. Old Spice was once the aftershave choice of your Granddad, but thanks to a new bottle, and fresh, sarcastic approach to TV advertising its fortunes were reversed, with tens of millions searching online for ‘I’m on a horse’, sales going through the roof, and a follow-up digital campaign that became a bonafide viral success story.
Despite renowned reliability and an innovative, user-first approach to software and operating systems, by 1996 Apple was dead in the water, verging on bankruptcy. Today it’s the most valuable brand in the world, and British designer Jonathan Ive has plenty to answer for. His iMac took the build quality the company was known for, and packaged it in a fresh and vibrant casing, changing the way we saw company and computers forever.
The first alcoholic drink to appear on UK television (in 1953) enjoyed huge popularity when it was first opened, but within 30 years redesigns and a change in focus had lost much of its roots. Relaunched in 1996 with a return to the original bottle design, mascot, and advertising stance, within the decade it would feature in Elle magazine’s Hot 100 list, introduce clothing and footwear lines, and see annual sales top 10million.
People stopped getting busy with the fizzy in the 1990s, but that didn’t stop the firm relaunching its carbonating machines- which, to quote original ad star Tommy Cooper, could turn water into bubbly drinks ‘just like that’. Unveiling a different look to the product, fresh flavours- including diet- and new TV ads (the first in 20 years), with an emphasis on the environmental benefits of doing away with plastic H2O bottles, it seemed to work.
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