In October 1999, the Northeast United States was plastered with ads for something called Acela, a new express train running from Boston to Washington. With TV ads, billboards, and posters everywhere, you'd think that it would have created some demand for Amtrak's new express service.

Well, maybe. Amtrak didn't get a chance to find out. Acela was delayed, and delayed again, so the marketing campaign played out while Acela service wasn't even available. Which reminded me of something I heard a marketing manager say when his product got a rave review one month before it went on sale: "Great publicity! Too bad you can't buy the dang thing!"

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