The commercial for this diet candy is an example of brand name failure. After this appetite suppressant found its place in the dieting market and generated a good amount of sales during the late seventies and early eighties, the Ayds brand had the unfortunate incident of choosing a name that phonetically matched the upcoming disease AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), also known as HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).
Suggestive brand names - compared with a brand name that contains no product meaning- have been proved to facilitate recall of initially advertised items in an ad exposure study with different congruent-incongruent conditions comparing product name and characteristics (Keller, Heckler & Houston, 1998). In this case, the brand name did not refer to the characteristics of the product, but was associated with the disease, given that it sounded the same.
Moreover, considering that, at the moment, the virus was increasing its public awareness and was portrayed to shrink people to their bones, the fact that this product was sold as a weight loss solution created an uncomfortable and unreliable reaction. Although the dieting product had been a successful weight loss item for many years, the company had to remove the product from the marketing after sales dropped due to publicity about the disease.
Keller, K. L., Heckler, S. E. & Houston, M. J. (1998). The Effects of Brand Name Suggestiveness on Advertising Recall. Journal of Marketing. Vol. 62(1), pp. 48-57.