Okay non-sports fans, stick with me for a moment...
The NBA pissed off a lot of players when they changed their ball from the classic leather ball to a synthetic model that looks like this:
The ball looks like it was designed for a basketball scene in some crappy movie about the future. But that wasn't the only problem. Apparently, all the players in the NBA hated it, not just because it didn't feel like the old ball, but also because some of them were also getting cuts on their hands from using it. The NBA put a lot of time in effort in introducing it: Commissioner David Stern felt like it would take some time to get used to and defended it strongly.
Until two days ago. Out of nowhere, Stern decided that they're going to go back to using the old ball in a couple of weeks. This was a total change from every public statement he had made since the start of the season.
Why does this sound so familiar? Because it reminds me of what happened with the introduction of New Coke.
I'm pretty fascinated with the whole New Coke fiasco. I mean, one of the biggest brand names in the history of the universe decided to mess with their product to try and keep up with the times. But damn, didn't they just screw it up. I mean, at the opening press conference, here's what the CEO of Coke, Roberto Goizueta, said:
"[It's] smoother, uh, uh, yet, uh, rounder yet, uh, bolder ... it has a more harmonious flavor." Not quite the inspirational words you'd want to use to describe your supposedly delicious, new, soda.
You can see it in this clip from a 1986 CBC report:
Two quick questions on the video: 1) Was that the older brother from the Wonder Years? 2) How can you motivate your company by comparing selling New Coke to storming the beaches at Normandy?
Here's where the basketball and New Coke mirror each other:
-David Stern said everyone would get used to the ball. Coke's marketing research noted that people who reacted positively to their new formula would still need time to get used to it.
-Every player in the NBA hated the new basketball. Everyone hated New Coke
-In just a matter of months, the NBA went back to the old ball. After three months, Coke re-introduced Coke Classic to please everyone they pissed off.
-Both were public disasters that could've been avoided. Both amuse me.
Also, I highly recommend a BBC Documentary about the New Coke debacle called, "Trouble at the Top: The People vs. Coke." If you ever see it on the Tivo, check it out.
And for some more flashback enjoyment, here's a couple of New Coke commercials.
And Bill Cosby: