Bristol-Myers Co. is searching for better ideas about new products this month in 1971 after piling one Edsel-type fiasco after another. Counting only new products that went national after massive ad campaigns, Bristol-Myers has turned out more than its share of Edsels. There was Fact toothpaste, circa 1967, positioned as the dentifrice that "works harder to prevent cavities." There was Vote, "the adult tooth whitener in the plastic tube," which went national in 1967-68. Remember Resolve, a 1968 competitor to Miles Labs' Alka-Seltzer? More than $11 million was spent to promote Resolve ("In your stomach you know it's right) before it was mercifully pulled, or driven off the market. There are others, Adulton cough medicine; Citrison, a hot lemonade cough preparation, didn't make it either. Other failures include Trig deodorant; Score hair preparations; That Look, a youth-oriented shampoo; First Hand, a foam lotion for hands; Duramax, an analgesic; and Dynalife, a hair conditioner.
"We were all deluded into thinking when we had a number of new-product successes. . . we could take on anyone," said one of the men who played a part in some disasters. An associate agreed. "We put out me-too products-or fake new products-and substituted money for research and good thinking."
The company's image has changed in the eyes of some agency people. "If I had to rate Bristol-Myers on how it regards agencies today," said one exec, "I'd have to rate it antagonistic." He added that after what the company has been through,