The Best Brand Extensions of 2013

In a sea of questionable extensions, you voted this one the absolute worst. Basketball great Shaquille O’Neal played in 15 All-Star games, won seven MVPs and ranks sixth in points scored in NBA history. Surely, that qualifies him to make … soda? Add one more stat for Shaq: most pointless idea.

Despite it being the height of flu season, there’s another malady sweeping the land, mercilessly infecting otherwise healthy products.

Call it “delusions of brandeur.” Explains John Parham, founder of Parham | Santana, a New York consultancy specializing in expanding brand footprints: “It’s the condition where a brand thinks that since 99 percent of America knows its name it can put that name on anything.”

That might explain why a $37 billion beer brand like Heineken would deem a line of shoes a fine sideline, or why the licensors of the Grateful Dead would introduce a line of skis, or why the noble owners of YouTube star Grumpy Cat felt it was time to cook up flavored coffees.

Those are just a few of the past year’s more dubious entries, as determined by the readers of Adweek in our annual online survey. We asked you to consider new products from the past year that bear the name of established brands—and separate the lucid from the ludicrous. Here, the best and worst are ranked according to your votes.

At its best, an extension can make for a smart, reliable new revenue stream independent of the steep startup costs of launching a whole new brand. But according to Parham, whose firm partners with Adweek on this survey, any good extension must meet three basic requirements: fit, leverage and opportunity. That means the extension should make sense, deploy the affinity of the parent brand to attract consumers and have the potential to generate sales.

While it may sound easy enough, history has shown it is anything but. (Coors Spring Water anyone?) And yet, as this year’s top finishers show, some extensions have the capacity to connect with consumers in a big way. “If you follow the rules,” says Parham, “you stand a good chance of succeeding.”
 

1

iTunes Radio

883 votes
Voted tops in our survey this year. In 2001, Apple’s iTunes let us buy our favorite singles via the Web, so perhaps personalized radio was just a matter of time. At launch this past September, 11 million listeners signed up; by the following month, that number had nearly doubled. Rock on.

2

Arm & Hammer Baby Products

811 votes
Baking soda is a commodity—but owner Church & Dwight has done such a masterful job marketing this brand that devotees treat it like nothing less than some magic powder. Now, count the littlest consumers among its fans, with the product expanding to Nursery Wipes and Changing Pads.

3

Cake Boss Bakeware

786 votes
Buddy Valastro was just another baker in Jersey before he sliced through four Food Network baking competitions and became the big man of buttercream. Does a line of pans and measuring cups seem logical? You betcha.

4

Brooks Brothers Great Gatsby Collection

748 votes
F. Scott Fitzgerald used to buy his suits at the venerable clothier—so who better to make the jaw-dropping costumes for last year’s feature film Gatsby? Brooks followed up with a collection that wasn’t just jazzy but historically accurate, ol’ sport.

5

Google Glass

740 votes
Since most of us have our faces buried in our mobile devices anyway, why not just create a computer we can wear like a pair of glasses? That was Google’s idea—one that’s still being tested but that, nonetheless, techies can’t quit buzzing about.

6

Kellogg’s Breakfast to Go

617 votes
Kellogg’s has been a staple of the breakfast table since 1906, so perhaps it was high time it gave us something for the road. The beloved American brand that invented cereal flakes is now serving up breakfast in a bottle—a logical extension for our on-the-go culture.

7

Axe Face & Shave

616 votes
Unilever’s health/beauty brand for men taught teen dudes that squirting scents with names like Black Chill into their armpits might help ’em get lucky. So it only made sense that the brand, hooking up with Schick and Norelco, now will be there when those first whiskers 

8

Adidas miCoach Training Watch

396 votes
This leading athletic brand makes everything from skateboarding shoes to sunglasses—why not a watch that acts as your own virtual running coach? This one does everything from measuring your heart rate to charting your physical location via GPS. And better yet, this one doesn’t yell at you.

9

Whole Foods Journeys

288 votes
Whole Foods Market brings us all-natural foodstuffs from every corner of the planet. And now, via Whole Journeys, customers can tag along on exotic excursions across four continents, immersing them in the global culture of food. Palatable destinations include Turkey, Tuscany and Spain’s Basque region.

10

Allegra Anti-Itch Cream

286 votes
If you happen to be suffering from dry, itchy skin this winter of the polar vortex, the folks at Chattem’s antihistamine brand Allegra have a new product for you. The only thing is, there are plenty of other analgesic creams out there already. Only time will tell if your rash needs 

The Worst Brand Extensions of 2013