The Coca-Cola Company must rue the day in April 1985 when it decided to tamper with the formula of its flagship drink. After blind tests found that people preferred the sweeter taste of Pepsi, executives decided to increase the sweetness of Coke. But long-time fans of the beverage were up in arms. Sales plummeted, particularly in the southern states, and Coca-Cola ended up reintroducing the original formula just three months after the launch of the much-derided 'New Coke'.
Instead of capitalising on the 'Cool Britannia' movement of the 1990s, British Airways opted to replace its stylised Union Jack livery with artwork representing the many nations served by the airline. Regarded as one of the worst marketing blunders of all time, the 'World Images' tailfins were loathed by many passengers. In 2001, just four years after the artwork was introduced, BA bowed to public pressure and reinstated its abstract Union Flag design.
In 1998, Kellogg's baffled kids across the UK by renaming its popular Coco Pops cereal Choco Krispies. Sales of the product nosedived. A survey of one million people found that 92% preferred the old name, which Kellogg's promptly reinstated in May 1999. But it seems the company didn't learn from its mistake. In the US, Kellogg's has sold a cereal called Cocoa Krispies since the 1950s. When it tried to change its name to Cocoa Rice Krispies in 2003, it didn't go down well and Kellogg's reverted to the original name in 2006.
Tropicana, which is owned by PepsiCo, pumped around $35 million (£24.7m) into overhauling its Pure Premium packaging in 2009. Its decision to replace the image of a straw inside an orange with an image of juice in a glass might sound simple, but it soon became known as the Tropicana Crisis. Customers hated the new cartons and sales dropped by 20%. Tropicana eventually reverted back to the original packaging but the debacle cost an additional $30 million (£21.2m) in lost sales.
Necco Wafers have been around since the US Civil War and the chalk-like confection has a loyal customer base. In 2009, these faithful aficionados were horrified when the Necco Wafers parent company tweaked the recipe, softening the sweets with glycerine, axing its lime flavour, and switching to all-natural ingredients. As a result, sales fell by 35% and the original formula was reinstated in 2011.
In 2010, Frito-Lay learned that the road to hell is often paved with good intentions after it introduced a 100% compostable bag for its Sunchips line of potato chips. There was just one catch. The biodegradable packaging was exceptionally noisy, with some customers describing its crinkles and crackles as “deafening". Frito-Lay responded by pulling the offending bags from sale, but is currently trialling new biodegradable packaging in Chile and India, according to HuffPost.
In 2011, Netflix flirted with the idea of separating its DVD-by-mail operation from its streaming service, calling its spin-off business Qwikster. But customers were far from impressed, especially since it came with a 60% price increase. According to the Yale School of Management, two million subscribers left Netflix and the stock price dropped in value by more than 75%. Mindful of alienating its user base, Netflix wasted no time abandoning Qwikster and refocused its energy on streaming.
Read more about Netflix's journey to global domination
Beam Suntory decided to water down its Maker's Mark bourbon in 2013, reducing the drink's alcohol content from 45% (90 proof) to 42% (84 proof). The dilution did nothing but anger the drink's customers, who were furious about the change. Within weeks, Beam Suntory did a U-turn and restored its original alcohol content.
In 2013, Breyers cut the milk content of its ice cream, a decision that forced the company to relabel its products as "Frozen Dairy Desserts". The change was met with a decidedly icy response from lovers of the brand. In an effort to appease these customers, Breyer has introduced some products with richer dairy content which have the magic words 'ice cream' on its labelling.
Nestlé gave its 80-year-old Milo chocolate malt recipe a healthy makeover in 2015, but the formula tweak didn't go down too well with the drink's fans. After complaints that the new 'improved' version was less chocolatey, Nestlé reinstated its old formula in 2019.
Patak's, one of the UK's most popular puveyors of Indian food, inflamed its curry fans in 2015 by tweaking the recipe of its lime pickle. Angry customers took to social media to slate the new condiment, flooding the firm with complaints and leaving scathing reviews online. As you might expect, Patak's relented and brought back the original recipe in February 2016.
Fans of Toblerone freaked out in 2016 when parent company Mondelez International increased the space between the Swiss chocolate bar's famous peaks. An example of shrinkflation, the change was made to decrease the weight of the product and keep prices down. Mindful of the negative response, Mondelez reverted to the old shape in 2018 but increased the bar's price as a result.
In 2016, Instagram riled professional influencers and casual users alike after changing its reverse-chronological feed to a display that prioritised 'relevant' posts. Instagrammers griped that the new algorithm was keeping posts hidden and bombarded the company with complaints. Thankfully, the social media site listened and reverted to a feed based on a more logical semi-chronological order in 2018.
Aussie food company Arnott's modified the recipe of its original Pizza Shapes in April 2016. The company was trying to give the snacks a healthy update. Despite its best intentions, customers were far from pleased and 30,000 people signed a Change.org petition for Arnott's to return to its original recipe and the company restored the flavour five months later.
As though its original name wasn't long enough, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! UK went all out in 2017 and rebranded as the even wordier I Can't Believe It's So Good... For Everything! The new name was roundly mocked and in 2019 the brand's new parent company made the wise decision to revert to the old name.
Keen to capitalise on the body inclusivity movement, Dove UK brought out limited-edition 'body positive' packaging for its body wash line in 2017. Parent company Unilever hoped that the new bottles, which supposedly represent diverse body types, would empower its customers. Instead, users of the brand felt patronised and insulted, taking to social media to ridicule the packaging.
British retailer Marks & Spencer's popular full-brief knickers are not to be messed with, if the reaction to the company's ill-fated tweaks in 2018 is anything to go by. The British high-street stalwart was inundated with complaints after altering the seam on its classic 'granny pants', and was forced to backtrack on the notorious redesign.
After battling plans to discontinue the brand in 2000, UK Salad Cream fans sprung into action again when Heinz announced it would be renaming the sauce Sandwich Cream in June 2018. A tidal wave of complaints followed, with research showing that 87% of customers were against the name change. Thankfully, Heinz caved and abandoned the rebrand in September the same year.
Snapchat infuriated users in 2018 after rolling out a redesign that separated personal friends and media, placing the most-watched accounts at the top of users' feeds. When Kylie Jenner tweeted her disdain, she wiped a whopping $1.3 billion (£945.5m) off the firm's value. Snapchat took heed and responded with a new layout that restored many of the features that were lost in the redesign.
Twitter released its new font, Chirp, in January, but it was officially rolled out globally in mid-August. The changes in colour and typography were made to “clean up a lot of visual clutter”, but plenty of users seemed to have preferred the clutter to the new, sharper design. After complaints of headaches and a lot of jokes at the social media site's expense, Twitter announced just a week later that it would redesign its redesign to make it “easier on the eye”.