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



Brand Winner…

And Loser…




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


Winner:  Chevy


Loser:  Hearst Corporation



Folks, I’ve never been a longtime critic of Superbowl advertising on the grounds that advertising dollars can go a lot farther elsewhere, but let’s put that aside this week for Chevy.

Why the exception?  Because GM is promoting the Chevy brand, not the company, not some kind of airy corporate, feel-good vision of itself, but the brand.  In fact, promoting its individual car brands has helped drive GM’s remarkable recovery as a company.  Something I argued would happen if they focused on their great brands.

This recovery will continue if Chevy’s recent, brand-focused move is any indication.

Chevy is tapping the global consumer public via a video contest in which the winner will be the one who creates the best Chevy-themed 30-second commercial.  The prize?  $25,000 and the commercial aired during next year’s Superbowl.

Bottom line, this is about tapping Chevy brand consciousness and re-enforcing the brand.  In fact, it might be the best reason for Superbowl advertising spending I’ve ever seen since it amplifies the reach of those thirty seconds into a genuinely interactive and Chevy-centered experience.

Every first year marketing student knows that the best way to get people to notice your product is through contests because of increase in eyeballs and interest.

The contest name?  The Chevrolet Route 66 Initiative.  It builds on the brand’s famous jingle that was revived last year: See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet

It’s also good to see that the contest site refers to both “Chevy” and “Chevrolet”:

Remember, last year GM made the wise decision to backtrack on trying to replace the time-honored, consumer-driven “Chevy” with the more formal “Chevrolet.” 

So hats off to GM and Chevy for being brand-centered and responsive to customer need.



This week’s loser is the Hearst Corporation.

Frankly, I can’t believe the mistake they are making.  It always baffles and disheartens me when I see a big company that should know better squandering its money on corporate, feel-good nonsense.

What’s Hearst doing? 

According to Stuart Elliott and his excellent column “Media Decoder” at The New York Times, who I have to thank for the inspiration for both my loser and my winner this week, Hearst is about to kick off a huge advertising campaign to “burnish its brand image rather than promote individual magazines like Esquire or Good Housekeeping.”

Michael Criton, president for marketing and publishing director at Hearst Magazines, says: “We’re unleashing our brand DNA.”

Unfortunately, folks, he might as well have said, we’re going to polish up the entrance to our corporate headquarters for all the good that this will do their business.

Yes, here we go again, with the wrong kind of marketing, the kind of marketing that assumes that the customer cares about your company the way you care about your company.  He, she, it doesn’t.  End of story.

The Hearst customer cares about individual titles and to the extent those individual titles satisfy the needs of its Target Markets those titles will prosper.

The campaign is based around the “Unbound” theme with the idea that magazines and Hearst will be around and available on many platforms well into the future.  Subtle touches like the “d” being tilted forward in the word “Unbound” are supposed to suggest this future.

That “d” is not only the grade I’d give this promotion if I was being generous but also the heart of the problem.  This kind of advertising campaign isn’t really about convincing the customer of a company’s value but convincing the company itself that it still has value.  Folks, it’s not only a big waste of advertising dollars, it’s also whistling past the graveyard.

The only bright spot here?  There will be promotions that will allow consumers to experience individual brands.

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



TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY –  If your brand is not at the center of every campaign then nothing is getting done.








Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *