Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Excedrin and Ralph Lauren


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner: Excedrin


Loser:  Ralph Lauren



There is nothing like a distribution problem to tell us a lot about brand equity.

Now I’m not speaking about imagined brand equity, the kind of thing that social media enthusiasts measure by “likes”.  I’m speaking about dollars and cents brand equity.

Bottom line, when the going gets tough and your product or service is scarce, how much are people willing to pay for it.

The answer for Excedrin is: a lot.

Apparently this past Friday a package of Excedrin Extra Strength 50 two-tablet packs went for almost $150 dollars on Amazon while the same-size pack of Excedrin Migraine was fetching almost $250.

The reason for these prices is from the shortage that resulted after the maker, Novartis, pulled the medication from the shelves at the beginning of the year because it stopped manufacture.

However, this fierce sign of brand equity should serve Excedrin well.  Novartis says it’s working hard to get manufacturing going again and return these much-loved products to the shelves.

It is a great example of how the first rule of branding is satisfying a need.  You see, most of Excedrin’s customers are migraine sufferers who swear by these particular formulations.  They say that nothing else works for them to combat the sudden, debilitating onsets of their migraines.

Brand value doesn’t get clearer than this.


Folks, what can I say about Ralph Lauren’s big mis-step?

Brands must be consistent.  In this case, Ralph Lauren wasn’t just being Ralph Lauren, it was the U.S. Team’s Olympic uniform brand.

The outrage at the revelation that those uniforms were being manufactured in China is understandable. 

Fact is, the U.S. uniform brand simply needs to be 100% U.S. –especially in this time of outsourcing and lost jobs.  End of story.

Lauren has backed away from the mistake by stating that the next batch of uniforms (for the Winter Olympics) will be made in the USA, but I believe some serious brand damage has been done. 

This isn’t a typical brand crisis that can be addressed by sound brand management, this is a fundamental error that goes straight to the core of the brand. 

This decision as to where the uniforms were made is simply too big.  Manufacturing abroad is the kind of thing that should have been rejected out of hand or never even raised as a possibility. The fact that it wasn’t says too much about this brand to ignore.

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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY: Crisis can teach us about brand equity.








Leave a Reply

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