NY Times Magazine: Can a Dead Brand Live Again?

It takes years and millions of dollars to build a brand, but that doesn't guarantee immortality on store shelves. Even the best household name brands go the way of the dinosaurs (e.g. Brim coffee). Chicago-based River West Brands think some dead brands are worth buying and resurrecting them. Maybe one of your favorite dead brands could be making a comeback soon?

Do you remember Brim? The coffee brand? Perhaps you recall its advertising slogan: “Fill it to the rim — with Brim!” Those ads haven’t been shown in years, and Brim itself has been off retail shelves since the 1990s. Yet depending on how old you are, there’s a fair chance that there’s some echo of the Brim brand in your brain. That’s no surprise, given that from 1961 to around 1995, General Foods spent tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars to get it there. But General Foods disappeared into the conglomerate now known as Altria, which also acquired Kraft, maker of Maxwell House. With much smaller sales than that megabrand, Brim soon disappeared — except, perhaps, for a vague idea of Brim that lingered, and lingers even now, in the minds of millions of consumers.

What’s that worth? A small company in Chicago, called River West Brands, figures that it’s definitely worth something, and possibly quite a lot. The firm did its own research a year or so ago and claims that among people over the age of 25, Brim had 92 percent “aided national awareness.” What this means is that if you ask people anywhere in America if they have ever heard of Brim, about 9 out of 10 will say yes. If true, that’s potentially a big deal. Building that level of recognition for a new brand of coffee — or anything else — from scratch would involve an astronomical amount of money, a great deal of time, or both.

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purplesimon's picture

I don't know if a dead brand can be resurrected, but I heard that Mars Confectionery is bringing Marathon back to the UK (it used to be called that before Snickers). There are many places reporting this, I found this one

So, perhaps it's a case of wait and see!

Oh, Cadbury's did it with Wispa bars after a Facebook campaign. Here's a story on that, with a twist, here

So, it'll have to be a yes, but I think it depends on the brand, the audience and the country. Can it be done on an international scale? Perhaps not.

Neo's picture

I can't even recall any dead brands that I might have used. Sony Betamax?

kidsleepy's picture

My suggestion: keep the original packaging, and air the original commercials. especially the ones from the 1970's. act like the brand never went away.

why just youtube brim coffee and go to the one marked "Brim Instant Coffee Commercial 1976," and feast upon the classical music, romance, a woman named barbara, and the Longest Endline Everrrrrrr.

other suggestions to bring back: new coke.

Dabitch's picture

brim rules!

kidsleepy's picture

If there is any update of this classic it should be perhaps a jingle in the form of hip-hop. I just want someone to shout "fill it to the rim, y'all!"

Dabitch's picture

*bwahahahah* My thoughts exactly.