Long before BP’s Tony Hayward there was the "joke" made in 1991 by Gerald Ratner, then boss of the jewellery chain which bore his name. He told an Institute of Directors conference in London that his products were "total crap" & “ ... cheaper than a prawn sandwich but probably won’t last as long."
Ratner had made the speech before and audiences had laughed. This time there was a journalist present and the public were not so amused at being taken for a ride. £500m was wiped off the shareprice and the company never recovered.