Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week
Winner: Alec Baldwin
Loser: Penn State
Folks, Alec Baldwin gets a lot of heat just for being Alec Baldwin.
Someone else might have gotten angry on a plane or left an ugly message on a message machine and the world would have moved on…
Of course, the world would never have heard of it. Alec Baldwin knows that the world is watching and the logic goes that Alec has a responsibility to be on his very best behavior at all times, because. . .
Here’s the part where the logic falls down. In fact, it makes zero sense from a branding perspective.
Why should Alec Baldwin care? He is an artist –whether you want to scoff at that word or not.
Not only is he an artist, but Baldwin is an artist with a long history of not being warm and fuzzy. He’s known to be tempermental in part because he’s also known to be a pretty bright fellow, one of the sharpest tools in Hollwood’s shed.
He doesn’t suffer fools and his temperement gets the better of him. So what? Since when did we stop being able to give certain people a wide berth or cut creatives some slack?
Unfortunately, since a long time. At least since the 24/7 news cycle has made everyone an arbiter of human behavior and a fierce judge of character.
Bottom line, Baldwin shouldn’t care. His brand is the brand that we saw in the American Airlines incident, but it’s also the brand we’ve seen talking intelligently about a range of issues and generally caring about our society in far deeper ways than most celebrities.
And, most of all, the Baldwin brand can take care of itself. His brilliant spoof of the American Airlines debacle on Saturday Night Live showed the airline up and should have reminded everyone that like it or not the goody two shoes expectations just don’t and shouldn’t ever apply to Mister Alec Baldwin.
That’s what’s meant by being true to your brand. Alec Baldwin isn’t for everyone and to be successful he shouldn’t try to be –luckily, he doesn’t.
Sometimes a good brand suffers so much damage or does itself so much damage that radical action is necessary.
That’s the case with Penn State, folks.
In short, with the arrest of Jerry Sandusky and the still unfolding scandal being inflicted on the school, the university must do something revolutionary.
Bottom line? Penn State needs to change its name.
Plenty of great universities have. Princeton used to be the College of New Jersey. The University of Pennsylvania used to be the College of Pennsylvania.
Penn State already has a good option: PSU.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is almost always shortened to MIT. It’s time that Penn State did the same and actively began the effort to refer to itself and have the public refer to it as PSU.
This isn’t just superficial. It will mark the beginning of a new era in the school’s history, especially if the school commits to a new way of doing business that will prevent the kinds of wrongs that have occurred from happening again.
In other words, the name change will mark a point where there is a distinct before and after and it will represent deep cultural change, not just image adjustment.
Such a move will help the school embrace its future. It won’t provide a clean slate, but it will at least give the university a place to start from.
And remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.
TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY – Not all brands work for all people and that’s a good thing.