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


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner:  CareerBuilder


Loser:  Starbucks



Folks, public relations often suggests that it must be apologies all around when controversy comes to a company.  But sometimes standing firm in the face of controversy is exactly what a brand needs to do.

That’s why CareerBuilder is our winner of the week.

The company is getting heat from animal rights activists who say its use of monkeys in its upcoming Super Bowl ad is wrong (the image above is a screen shot from a similar ad a few years ago).

Despite the fact that these ads are apparently very funny –or perhaps because of this fact– conservationists including zoo keepers and even Anjelica Huston are rallying against the insensitivity of making fun of the primate and also argue that to their detriment, performing chimps have been taken away from their mothers at a young age.

But this issue really goes down to what is considered reasonable.  And a brand’s reasonable conduct.  Let’s face it, CareerBuilder’s audience is wide, mainly professional and looking for work.  They probably need a laugh and these commercials might provide that (whether they’ll get viewers to the CareerBuilder door –well, look to my general criticism of Super Bowl ads for the answer to that question).

Even more, CareerBuilders is in a strong position even in response to these critics.  Here’s their statement:

“We hired top trainers known to provide the highest standard of care for
their animals.  We also had a member of animal rights group, the
American Humane Association, on set during the entire filming to ensure
the chimpanzees were treated with respect. This was very important to

Bottom line, by conventional standards CareerBuilders is doing nothing wrong and the company is clearly thinking about their target market instead of the vocal minority who object.


Folks, what is Starbucks doing?

In an apparent response to customer demand in the Northwest, some stores will be adding beer and wine to the menu in the evenings.

It’s good that they’re rolling this out locally so that it need not become a nationwide debacle.  Overall, though, this is a pretty bad idea.

First, while the move is apparently in response to customer demand for “more options”, is alcohol really consistent with the Starbucks’ brand? 

I have serious doubts and also suspect that there is a silent majority who don’t think that alcohol belong in Starbucks.  Let’s face it, once you start serving alcohol, you change the atmosphere, the clientele and maybe just in subtle ways begin to color the brand image. 

So I’d vote no to this Starbucks move (though, again, if it works locally, it can stay local without hurting the wider brand –like McDonald’s sells beer in Germany).

One last point, what kind of wine are they going to serve.  It had better be quality on level with the perceived quality of their coffee –and take it from this wine aficianado, that won’t be easy!

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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAYSometimes the best response to brand criticism is simply to ignore it.








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