Chris Losh takes a look at two new product innovations in the drinks business which severely test his sympathy for those charged with the difficult task of coming up with new ideas.

For all the scorn that I've heaped on marketeers and product development wallahs over the years, I have to confess that I do also have a certain amount of sympathy for their plight.

Their job, after all, is a tough one. How do you come up with yet more ways of convincing an increasingly sceptical public to spend their money without trashing a brand's long-term image or looking gimmicky in the process?

Every so often some bright young thing hits on an approach that either hasn't been done before or is brilliantly reinvented to capture an altered Zeitgeist. But so many of the efforts miss the mark so badly that you do begin to wonder whose idea it was to fire the budget in that direction in the first place.

The last ten days have been a case in point, with two launches that left me with the kind of 'face wrinkled in disbelief' look that normally belongs on an 80-year-old African tortoise.

First up was the Guinness Surger, a unit that sends ultrasonic waves through your home-poured pint of the black stuff. Not only does this, presumably, ease away any nasty ligament damage in your can of beer, it ensures a perfect 'black body and white head': Guinness, as gleamingly perfect as you would expect from a proper bar.

At a strategic level, the thinking is impeccable. Staying in is the new going out (or so all the 30-something columnists who've just had kids are telling us), the on-trade is sure to be heavily hit by the smoking bans coming into force all over the world, and Guinness is trying hard to distance itself from downmarket price promotions.

This beer massager is premium (tick), off-trade focused (tick) and adds a little theatre to those nights on the sofa (tick).

It also costs (and please note the absence of tick here) GBP17.

Since the brand's sales fell over the last six months largely because it refused to get dragged into a price-cutting war (and three cheers to Diageo for standing up against that), it's hard to see how launching something that's 20-times more expensive than a can is going to help matters. Still, best of luck. And next time my beer pulls a muscle I'll know where to take it.

Alas, the second product will probably have few problems selling, despite almost certainly being ruinously expensive when it finally hits the market. Bruichladdich's Usquebaugh-baul is a quadruple-distilled Scotch whisky and won't be bottled for another ten years or so. The four distillations (never mind the quality, feel the width!) will give it an initial strength of 92% abv, and the company has been happy to claim that it's the 'world's strongest dram' and that just two teaspoons will knock you off your feet.

Whether the finished product will be bottled anywhere near this rocket-fuel strength is unclear at the moment (and highly unlikely). But using a product's strength to sell it is, as the Scotch Whisky Association pointed out, pretty irresponsible, especially given the kind of eagle-eyed scrutiny which the UK drinks industry is under just at the moment.

Bruichladdich will doubtless point out that at hundreds of pounds a bottle, your average binge drinker is no more likely to be necking their turbocharged new baby than 1947 Cheval Blanc, but it hasn't stopped the papers from picking up the story and plastering it all over their pages.

Whisky needs this kind of publicity like a hole in the head, which, ironically, is probably what would happen to you if you drank Usquebaugh-baul without heavily diluting it first.

But seriously, it's too easy to wring money out of whisky anoraks by simply producing tiny amounts of something unusual and charging the earth for it. The real challenge lies in getting people to drink blended Scotch again - and that's something for which, depressingly, no marketeers in Scotch's home market seem able to find a solution.