I forget exactly what year I saw them, but I know I did....Warner Bros. brand sneakers. Target had them on display once. WB shoes, with the shield logo stitched into the back. They weren't Bugs Bunny shoes or anything....they were simply shoes made by a movie company. I never saw them after that one Target visit, so I take it the venture was unsuccessful.

Brands are not as influential to the average consumer's buying decisions as the rich jerks of the world would like them to be. Every single ad that's ever been made involves actors trying to use brands in casual conversation ("This Ay Tee and Tee El Gee Four Tee Eee is fast!"), despite the fact that nobody does that in real life...with rare exception. It's every businessman's dream to own a brand so popular that it becomes another word for the product itself -- "Popsicle," "Frisbee" and "Kleenex" are all brands. That, however, doesn't mean we won't buy a different brand of facial tissue if it's priced a dollar less.

Make no mistake, though -- brands can be powerful things, just not in the direction capitalism wants. They're actually more limiting than anything else. Once the public associates a company name with a product, that name can never go above any other type of product again, or mass confusion will result. Like with these 100% real SEVEN FAILED BRAND CROSSOVERS:

FRITO-LAY LEMONADE: Frito-Lay is a brand famous for chips and not much else. They once made a stab at changing that by selling lemonade stamped with the Frito-Lay logo on its bottle. When I say "they" I mean PepsiCo, which had many other brands to choose from, but picked the chips-associated one. They could have called it "Pepsi Lemonade" and kept it going for a while longer (though not too much longer, if Pepsi's track record with spinoffs is any indication). Or PepsiCo could have invented a new brand, probably the best option. But it's too late now. It was called Frito-Lay Lemonade, and no one knew what to do with it.
MCDONALDS PIZZA: Never officially rolled out nationwide, but tested in a few markets. At first glance, this doesn't sound like too terrible an idea. But think about it: if you want pizza, which direction would you head: to your favorite pizza joint, or to McDonalds? "Well, I want GOOD pizza," you'd think. Good pizza is easy to find; plenty of people make it. McDonalds, however, is known for making quick, watered-down, styrofoamish knockoffs of everything. When it came to pizza, they were way out of their league.

COLGATE TV DINNERS: Well, maybe "TV dinner" isn't the term I should use...I keep forgetting they want us to call them "choice entrees" now, perferably in a French accent. But when pre-prepared frozen meals hit the supermarkets, the TV was still a new invention, and the hope was that associating the food with TV (despite no clear connection) would make them appear jet-age. It'd be like naming them "iDinners" now.

Within a couple decades, though, TV dinners gained a bad reputation as awful-tasting, bottom-of-the-barrel cuisine for trailer trash, and they had to change the brand fast. Not the foodstuff quality, just the brand. So they started calling them "entrees" instead, but one company didn't think that went far enough: Colgate, who started making meals with their name slapped on 'em.

You can already see the problem here. Most people, except a few members of the lunatic fringe (we all know you're out there), don't want to eat their toothpaste. Sure, it might be minty, but that's not the best quality for chicken and veggies to have.

COSMOPOLITAN YOGURT: Once upon a time this room full of geniuses wanted to launch a new brand of yogurt. As everybody knows, only women eat yogurt -- unless it comes packaged in a tube and endorsed by extreme biker stunt stars. So they needed a brand that attracted women.

They decided to make their job easy by finding another brand popular with the vaguest definition of womankind, and then name the yogurt that. Tampax Yogurt? No.....The Warm Inviting Horse-Face of Carrie Bradshaw Yogurt? Not quite there.....Purse Yogurt! Yes! ........no.....

The revelation came in the checkstand line, as they were discreetly ogling the cover star. COSMOPOLITAN YOGURT! The magazine approved the use of its logo and the product was shipped to stores.

No one bought it, not even anyone in the "hookers who read" demographic Cosmopolitan chases so fervently. Then again, I never saw an ad for this stuff -- there was no promotion. "When my boobs act weird, I sit down and forget about it by pleasuring my taste buds with Cosmo Yogurt. It makes my large intestine go WILD!"

Oh, and speaking of yogurt.....

"TOUCH OF YOGURT" SHAMPOO: So it's been established women go agog for yogurt. They're also into hair, right? Especially the hair on your head? What if we made a yogurt that had a bit of shampoo in it? No, no.....how about shampoo that has a bit of yogurt in it? That could just work!

The biggest disaster about Touch of Yogurt Shampoo was that if you make "Yogurt" the biggest word on a bottle, people are more likely to eat it than put it in their hair. That's exactly what happened, and when those people got sick, Clairol was faced with litigation and removed Yogurt Brand Shampoo from the market immediately, pretending to this day they never made it.

Fun To Play With, Not To Eat.™

BIC UNDERWEAR: Bic is one of the few brands that made the leap from one product to another successfully: they sell pens, and they also sell shaving razors. And cigarette lighters! This must have made them feel invincible, for the next market they aimed to conquer was the market of....underwear.

Not just underwear. Wear-once, cheap, disposable underwear! Just like how their razors and lighters were made to be thrown out eventually, so were their briefs. The venture never took off, but the worst thing about it is, there has to be a market for disposable underwear, and now Bic made me think about it!

HARLEY-DAVIDSON COLOGNE: You ever smelled a biker before? If not, do you ever want to?