Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Ford and RIM (Blackberry)


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner:  Ford


Loser:  RIM (Blackberry)



Folks, a few weeks ago our winner was General Motors.  Now, it’s Ford.

Once again a powerful principle has been vindicated: People buy brands not companies.

Ford’s U.S. retail sales rose 20% in November.  Part of the reason is that Ford predicted and was able to meet a big uptick in demand for fuel efficient cars.

But another part of the picture is that Ford has become brand savvy.

Look what they just announced.  Ford, aiming to bring it’s Lincoln brand back to life, has launched an ad agency specifically focused on the Lincoln brand.

The goal will be to underscore the luxury component of the Lincoln brand.  The agency will have 45 people devoted to this brand mission.

Ford clearly gets it.  Just like it’s decision to end it’s small truck brand the Ranger probably makes brand sense.  With increasing fuel-efficiency, it’s larger F-150 trucks are now very competitive for the kinds of people once drawn to Rangers.

Again, the takeaway is clear: focus on the brand and things will usually work; focus on the company image . . . and fuggedaboutit.


Folks, Research In Motion, the maker of Blackberry, is in trouble.  In fact it has the look of a company that’s on its last legs being brought down by products that are not yet brands and a brand, the BlackBerry, that has lost its target market.

Here’s the story.

As everyone knows Apple has been eating RIM’s lunch for well over two years.  RIM’s share of the smartphone dropped to 9.2% in the third quarter from 24% last year.

In the end, RIM just couldn’t compete with the speed and other advantages of the iPhone and Android devices.  Not only that, its attempt to compete by launching a tablet the Playbook (a product not quite a brand) and, more important, new radically re-designed phones has been hampered by serious delays.

And that’s the takeaway.  Almost all brands will be faced with significant competition at some point.  Sometimes this competition will prove life-threatening to the brand.  But what will ultimately kill a brand isn’t competition but the inability to respond to the competition by delivering real solutions to the target market’s needs.

Timeliness to market with these solutions is critical –a solution is worthless if it doesn’t reach those who need to be reached when they need to be reached.

It’s sad to see a once great brand die, but it’s even sadder when you consider that failing wasn’t inevitable — for a good illustration of what happened to RIM, take a look at Herb Greenberg’s post on his one-time love affair with Blackberry and why it went sour.

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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY –  Once again, people really do buy brands, not companies.








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