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Orphans, Ghosts, and Zombies

Brim coffee.  Underalls.  Coleco toys and games.  Over-the-counter Nuprin.  Rival pet food.  The only thing they have in common is that they were well-known--and are still remembered--brands.  All went totally or nearly off the market and all of them have returned or are in the process of returning, due to River West Brands.

The jury's still out on which dead, dormant, or dying brands (known in the trade as orphans, ghosts, or zombies) can undergo "brand reanimation."  The key may be consumer memory.  There may a core of nostalgic consumers who would buy the product again--maybe not just as it was, but sort of the way it used to be.  The reanimation of the VW Beetle is the shining example of the concept.  White Cloud toilet paper is right up there also; this is now a Wal-Mart exclusive brand.  Proctor & Gamble let the White Cloud trademarks expire, since they had Charmin; now P&G's Charmin competes in the largest retailer against a brand that P&G itself developed and nurtured!

Research has uncovered an fascinating trait of consumer memory, however.  Consumers are quite capable of remembering brand aspects that never existed!  Shown a bogus Disney World ad, about 16% of test subjects "remembered" that, as children, they shook hands with Bugs Bunny at a Disney theme park.  A substantial number of these specifically recalled Bugs saying, "What's up, Doc?" If you know your cartoon characters, you've already noted the insurmounatable memory problem:   Bugs is not now and never has been a Disney character, so the "memories" have no basis in reality.


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