Octopus TV Failure Awards Nominee – HOT DATES: Celebrating Decades, Centuries & Millenniums by Andrew Eborn

In this weekly series renowned international lawyer, strategist, futurologist, producer and broadcaster Andrew Eborn, President of Octopus TV and Knot The Truth and Founder of the Octopus TV Failure Awards, shines a light on the products and services, brand extensions and campaigns that failed to take off and have as a result earned entry into The Octopus TV Failure Awards.

As Andrew points out “We always celebrate success whilst hiding the failures that led to that success. The Octopus TV Failure Awards finally give failure the attention it deserves. If necessity is the mother of invention then failure is the father of success. From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.”

Thank you for all the new nominations for the Octopus TV Failure Awards. Keep them coming

We finished 2019 reviewing a dog’s dinner of a movie, CATS – populated with practically purrfect pussy puns. A CAT-astrophe, indeed !

So far for The Octopus TV Failure Awards this year we have applied 2020 vision to failures connected in some way with Decades, Centuries & Millenniums.

We looked at the Millennium Bug – which led to billions being spent as a result of the fear generated that when 2000 came around computers would be confused and not know whether 00 meant that the date was 1900 or 2000.

We also considered the “monstrous blancmange” and “Museum of Toxic Waste”, the £789 million Millennium Dome. As an attraction the Dome failed to attract people – with only 6.5 million of the anticipated 12 million visitors throughout the year 2000. With a name change to The O2, The Dome went from National Embarrassment to National Treasure.

We also looked a look at our obsession with New Year’s resolutions. By far the most popular New Year’s resolution – with over 70% – is to diet and/or to eat more healthily. It was therefore timely to be inundated with nominations for Juicero the wi-fi connected juicer, which was launched as the “iMac of Juicers”, “Keurig for juice” with an eye-watering US$700 price tag. It used singled purpose juice pouches available on subscription. Over US$120milllion was squeezed from investors including heavy weights from Silicon Valley. Distribution was limited and the need for the smart juicer called into question when it was shown the pouches could be squeezed by hand. Juicero was widely ridiculed as an over engineered, overpriced solution to a problem that just did not really exist. The business collapsed in September 2017.


But perhaps the biggest failure of all is the fact that we celebrate Decades, Centuries & Millenniums too early!

There is always the debate as to when a decade, century or millennium starts and finishes.

As social media is polluted with photos of #10YearChallenge it feels slightly churlish to break the news that we are in fact technically celebrating the start of a new decade a year too early..


The first calendars date back to the Bronze Age and were generally based on the phases of the moon and the solar year. Since then, various cultures have developed their own calendars. 

There are now 40 different calendars, such as the Chinese, Japanese, Jewish, Islamic and the Hindu calendars, all of which use completely different year numbers.

Calendar System: Year

Anno Domini, the year numbering system was devised in AD 532 by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus, who lived in an area which is now part of Romania and Bulgaria.  Dionysius used Roman numerals to number the years “since the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ” calculated using the Gospel of St Luke.

There is no Roman numeral for the number zero.

This means that year AD 1 directly followed year 1 BC

I know you care, like the Roman who put up 2 fingers to order 5 beers.

Can’t remember how to write 1, 1000, 51, 6 and 500 in Roman numerals



Dionysius’ calendar was not adopted generally until 1582, under the instruction of Pope Gregory, who modestly gave it his name, The Gregorian Calendar. Interestingly, Greece did not fully adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1923.

The Gregorian Calendar is the most widely used in world. It replaced the Julian calendar, improving the accuracy of the year’s length by .002% by stopping the year from drifting away from the solstice and equinox.

As there is no year 0 in the Gregorian calendar the first year was complete at the end of year 1, not at its beginning.

Accordingly, the 1st century ran from the year AD 1 through to the end of AD 100.

The 2nd century began on AD 101 and continued through to the end of AD 200.

The 20th century comprises the years AD 1901-2000.

Therefore, the 21st century began on 1 January 2001 and will continue through to 31 December 2100.

Looking forward to seeing you at the party – bring your new hips!


Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick were right to base their classic science fiction story A Space Odyssey in 2001 rather than 2000.


The fact is we love a full rounded figure. The human brain is predisposed to highlight “big numbers”—a tendency psychologists call the round number bias.

As Dr Samuel Johnson pointed out “ all round numbers are false”

Like birthdays we should celebrate having completed the year. At the end of this my 25th year I shall celebrate my 25th birthday (again). I know I may look older but I had a tough paper round!

Dr Robert Massey is Deputy Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society, where he spends his days making the case for astronomy to the wider world. “The reason why everyone conveniently overlooked the fact the millennium celebrations came too soon was probably psychological. When 1999 turned into 2000 all four digits changed, and that seemed a reason to celebrate.”

As Paddy Murry of The Irish Times points out

“The calendar changed from 1999 to 2000 so it looked like a new millennium. A new millennium for the innumerate.”


This argument has reared its ugly head throughout history.

At the end of the 19th century Pope Leo and Russian’s Czar Nicholas correctly insisted that the 20th century would begin on January 1, 1901. Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany disagreed and celebrated on January 1st, 1900 The New York Times pointed out that the Kaiser Chief must stand in “solitary grandeur as the only man of prominence who cannot count up to 100”.


As mentioned, the Gregorian Calendar uses calculations based on the date of the birth of Jesus Christ.

There are, however, even disagreements about when Jesus Christ was born.

Both Luke and Matthew mention that Jesus was born in the reign of King Herod (Luke 1:5; Matthew 2:1). This would tie in with the report that Herod ordered the massacre of all infants under the age of 2 in Bethlehem having been told of the birth of a new “King of The Jews”.

Josephus relates Herod’s death to a lunar eclipse. This is generally regarded as a reference to a lunar eclipse in 4 B.C.

To tie in with the story, Jesus would have had to be born between 4BC and 6BC.

6 BC ??

Six years Before Christ?


A miracle indeed !

The perfect way to shave years off your actual age.

Have your actual birthday before you were born and only start counting several years later… I know a few who have adopted this!


The fact is, using The Gregorian Calendar, we count our decades from one to 10, not from zero to nine. Similarly, we count our millenniums from one to 1,000, not from zero to 999.

The new decade will therefore begin on 1st January 2021…

In the meantime, continue to enjoy the celebrations and let’s do it all again same time next year as we welcome in the new decade… properly!

Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewEborn @OctopusTV

[email protected]

Send your nominations now

From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.

Send your nominations with full description and images to [email protected]

In addition to international recognition and glittering prizes the winners will be featured in The Museum of Failure and receive the much valued TOFA.

We shall provide a regular update including through the Andrew Eborn weekly column http://www.thedrum.com/users/andreweborn2

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