Once cast aside as a cringe-worthy mistake, “Colgate Lasagna” has at last found fame … as a top flop at the Museum of Failure.
The dental care brand’s 1980s culinary foray joins the line-up of epic fails on display in Los Angeles at a roving pop-up museum that has proven an ironic success.
A model of the Titanic, coffee-based Coca Cola and the flashy but under-powered DeLorean car from the Back To The Future movie all have a special place among the more than 100 flops of innovation that make up the show, which first opened in Sweden in June before moving to California this month.
Packaging from a Colgate Beef Lasagna frozen entree from the 1980s – the product is known as one of the biggest marketing duds ever
The inventions may trigger facepalms, but the show aims to prove that failure is indeed an option.
“For technological progress you need a lot of failures along the way,” says clinical psychologist Samuel West. Without the all-but-defunct monoski, for instance, the snowboard may never have seen the light of day
“It is the same for any other social innovation, even us as individuals when we learn new things, we are going to fail. So I think we should accept it more,” says West, who came up with the idea for the museum because he was “tired of the success stories”.
Although the infamous Colgate Lasagna features, West says the packaging is actually a well-researched copy. The company known for toothpaste was not keen to provide a sample from its frozen food – known as one of the biggest marketing duds ever.
Though he prides himself on his business acumen, US President Donald Trump also made the show’s cut, for several ventures from the time when he was known not as president but as simply “The Donald”.
What West calls a “shrine” to the former real estate magnate includes a Monopoly-esque board game named simply “Trump: The Game”, a bottle of Trump Vodka and a textbook on entrepreneurship from the for-profit Trump University.
The glass case also includes one of the now-iconic red caps emblazoned with his presidential campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.”
Donald Trump games, books, water, alcohol, and other items on display as part of the exhibition ‘celebrating’ commercial failures at the Museum of Failure
Trump is “a man who built his image on being a successful business man, it’s his trademark,” curator West says.
“But if you look at his business adventures, they are misadventures, he failed over and over and over again,” he says, noting that he included the cap to hint at pitfalls the embattled leader may yet hit.
West has no sponsors – as “companies don’t want to be associated” with failure – but every week he receives packages with donations for his collection, from cappuccino-flavoured chips to the astronomically high-priced – and just as short-lived – “Juiceiro” juicer.
Today, the museum’s exhibits are made up of 40% donations, and 60% his own finds.
The collection, which will move to other cities in the United States early next year, fits in well in Los Angeles: the city houses museums dedicated to everything from broken relationships to bunnies, and even an art gallery featuring only works created using velvet.
The Museum of Failure also encourages visitors to own their own botched efforts, confessing to them on index cards and publicly posting them on a wall.
Without the failed Monoski, we wouldnt have the modern-day snowboard.
“I liked it because I think it was such an unusual idea,” says Chris Whitehead, an IT worker who visited the museum – and wrote on the wall that he failed his driving test six times.
“I think the lesson to take away is even if you fail you might actually have a lasting impact anyway.”
The Museum of Failure exhibition is currently on at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles (No. 900, E. 4th Street) until Feb 4, 2018
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