10 More Popular Elsewhere Than Here

Published on .

1. John Kerry

Millions of Frenchmen can't be wrong, but they also can't register to vote in Ohio. Endorsements by the world's "furriners" proved as persuasive in red states as Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine. The Guardian of London's pen pal effort on behalf of Mr. Kerry in Clark County, Ohio, may have actually helped deliver a county that went for Al Gore in 2000 to George W. Bush in 2004.

2. Coffee Pods

At several times the price per cup of ordinary ground coffee, what isn't to like about coffee pods? Apparently, quite a bit. In the U.S. pods are still just for peas and body snatchers. The successful European businesses, transferred to the U.S. by Sara Lee Corp., Procter & Gamble Co. and Kraft Foods, lost something in translation. Americans are sticking with having their "coffee-shop experience" at Starbucks.

3. CNN

U.S. viewers have switched from CNN to conservative Fox News, but much of the rest of the world is still watching CNN International. CNN is their source for information on the economy, Iraq and this year's U.S. presidential election. Plus they think the newscasters are hot.

4. Laundry Tablets

The last of the 2000 laundry tablet launches quietly disappeared from most U.S. stores this year. Procter & Gamble Co. first launched tablets in the U.S. in the 1970s. P&G discovered, much to its horror, that some users actually liked the poor-dissolving tablets because they were "reusable." Then, Unilever made strong headway in Europe with better tablets in the late 1990s. Fortunately for P&G, Unilever took the lead in the U.S. this time, when tabs worked much better but consumers still didn't care.

5. `Coupling'

In the frantic hunt for blockbuster sitcoms to replace popular longtime series, NBC re-made a mildly successful BBC2 comedy and hyped it as a replacement for "Friends." NBC's version of "Coupling" not only failed to translate the sexual candor of the British original, the U.S. remake was so embarrassingly bad it was canceled after just four episodes. Look for NBC to ruin "The Office" next.

6. Wet Toilet Paper

Years ago, the backer of a product that eventually became Procter & Gamble Co.'s Charmin FreshMates claimed wet toilet paper on a roll was a billion-dollar market in Europe. Kimberly-Clark Corp. bought the idea in a much bigger way with Cottonelle Rollwipes. Neither has gotten much, um, traction, in the U.S. As one analyst quipped: "They have bidets in Europe, too."

7. David Beckham

David Beckham and wife Victoria (aka "Posh Spice") haven't had much luck in their efforts to recreate in the U.S. the iconic status he enjoys elsewhere as a sports superstar in Europe and a godlike figure in Asia. So strong is the mystique outside the U.S. that Pepsi Cola, Adidas and Vodafone have all signed Becks for international campaigns. And Spanish soccer team Real Madrid paid $50 million last year for Becks.

8. Pocket-Size Mags

Everyone's doing them in Europe. Conde Nast has a pocket size Glamour magazine in Germany and Conde Nast Traveler in Italy. But the diminutive size hasn't caught on in the U.S., where Conde Nast's downsized Teen Vogue hasn't started a trend here. In fact, Teen Vogue may grow up into a full-size magazine.

9. Bubble Tea

This milky tea with beads of gummy tapioca sipped through a fat straw became popular in Taiwan in the 1980s and caught on among Asian-Americans in the 1990s, spreading to university campuses and fueling a young hipster trendlet here. But bubble tea, also called boba (Chinese slang for "big breasts"), doesn't seem to be crossing over to find a wider U.S. audience.

10. Robbie Williams

The U.K.'s self-proclaimed "King of Light Entertainment" is a Justin Timberlake-like breakout from successful boy band Take That. He signed an estimated $150 million record deal with EMI in late 2002 and although he's regarded in the U.K. as a global star he's never really cracked the U.S. Williams himself says he's popular enough and can't face the hard work needed to make it big in the U.S., although EMI may have expected a bit more hard work for all that money.

In this article:
Most Popular