Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Ben & Jerry’s and Levi’s


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner: Ben & Jerry’s


Loser:  Levi’s



First there was Schweddy Balls.

Now there’s Lin-sanity.

Each flavor designed to maximize buzz and controversy and continue to raise and re-enforce the Ben & Jerry’s brand!

The latest flavor with Lichee nuts and fortune cookies was adpublitizing at its finest.  Ben & Jerry’s has apologized for the so-called racist ingredients and apparently removed the fortune cookies –though I’m not sure what’s racist about honoring someone and their heritage (I thought the U.S. was founded on the principle out of many one!).

In any event, in the current climate, only someone completely ignorant would have thought that such a flavor with these ingredients wouldn’t have predictably become a lightning rod for outrage –and all the free publicity that comes with it.

The company backpedaled, showed they were “sensitive” but the benefit was already there’s (who can really think for a minute that the Lin-sanity flavor is going to hurt not help Ben & Jerry’s sales?).

Hats off to the Vermont ice cream maker who has once again pushed the limits while staying well within the mandate of its brand!


Levi’s might have been trying to pull off some adpublitizing like Ben & Jerry’s, but where the ice cream maker wisely knew they weren’t going to be crossing their target market, the jean’s maker did not.

I’m speaking about the venerable jean company’s “curve” campaign.

The company had a good idea in trying to specifically launch jeans for all body types, but the images used in their advertising were limited to three skinny women with only slight differences.

Let’s say for a second that this was adpublitizing and the company thought they’d be stirring controversy…  Here’s the problem, folks: their target market would naturally get offended and not be in on the joke.  After all, the images and the words of the campaign conspire to exclude, not include, the very people that Levi’s is trying to market to.  As some of the controversy reports: not one of the models pictured in the ad campaign is even close to a size 14 which is the average for American women.

Still, the jeans are apparently selling well because the core concept that Levi’s has used which analyzes women’s bodies to determine the best fit is one that people like.  But you’ve got to wonder how much better things would have gone if they had kept their target market in mind.  One odd detail is this: apparently the ads in question come from 2010.  If this is true, it shows that the shelf life of a bad brand decision is quite long in the Internet age.

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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAYAdpublitizing works –but only if you keep your brand and your target market in mind.  Your target market must always come along for the ride and get the joke.








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