Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Apple and Chick-fil-A


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week

Winner: Apple


Loser:  Chick-fil-A



Folks, Apple is our winner this week.  With sales of the iPhone 5 going through the roof and talk of a company market value that may soon reach one trillion dollars how could it be any other way.

After all, this is a brand that has triumphed.

But, I’ve got to tell you, Apple is a provisional winner.


Because just like they say it takes a while to slow a big ship down when you turn off the engines, I’m wondering if we just might be seeing evidence of brand decline with Apple.

First, Guy Kawasaki, Apple’s long-time champion criticized the company’s “arrogance” in deciding to require an entirely new cable instead of one that everyone already has.  And what’s more, Kawasaki admitted to having used an android phone for over a year now.  When advocates and taste makers like Kawasaki defect, a brand had better take notice.

Second, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s photos sure reminded me of Steve Jobs.  It was actually a little eerie, as if Cook was working hard to channel his predecessor.

Something similar happened back in the sixties when Walt Disney died.  A pall came over that company.  People asked what would Walt do?  The company drifted. There was the instinct to imitate but ultimately Walt, like Jobs, couldn’t be imitated and a new course needed to be charted.

And that’s where I think Apple is right now.  It has the critical mass to be a continued force in the marketplace, but will it do all the right things needed to remain a dominant brand?  Stay tuned.


Chick-fil-A, the now controversial restaurant chain, has made the mistake of being unclear in the communication of its brand.

Several press releases and then calls for clarification from its CEO have only made its position less clear.  Here is coverage from The Washington Post.

And here is the bottom line: it looks like Chick-fil-A will have to make a big decision, but hasn’t yet.  This is the decision that most regional, highly-targeted brands need to make as they expand nationally and internationally: they must choose to become more generic and basically apolitical.

What I think we’re seeing here is that the company caught in the cross currents, tempted by the prospects of bigger, more lucrative, markets and bothered by what being in those markets means for the roots of the brand.

So what should the Chick-fil-A folks do.  They should take a page from the Dunkin Donuts guy: It’s Time To Make The Donuts.  Focus on the chicken and keep focusing on the chicken and let everyone know that’s what you’re doing.

It doesn’t mean abandoning your company values, but it does mean remembering that you are a chicken restaurant first, not a kind of family values factory. 

And remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY: Always remember what is at the core of your brand.








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