Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Ford (Lincoln) and Ball Parks


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner: Ford (Lincoln)


Loser:  Ball Parks (Peanuts)



Ford’s our winner this week.  Why?

Their commitment to the Lincoln brand.  Despite declining sales in recent years, the company understands that brands have deep value and if you can find a way of tapping that value, it is always better than throwing a brand away.

So how are they planning on doing this?  By getting fresh blood in the form of a major new designer Max Wolff who seems to understand the Lincoln brand. 

Here’s a bit of the story from The New York Times (and the link):

just 5.5 percent of the luxury car market and an aging customer base
(average age: 65), Lincoln needs to attract buyers from other brands.

“This position is unique,” Mr. Wolff told me when I caught up with him and Ford’s global marketing vice president, Jim Farley, at this week’s New York International Auto Show, where a gleaming “ruby red” Lincoln MKZ was on display a few feet away. “I was hired to reinvent a storied brand,” Mr. Wolff said. “I had a blank canvas. Jim hired me to be a provocateur. A chance like this probably comes along only once in a lifetime.”

Lincoln is indeed storied within design circles. When Ford recently acquired a rare Continental Mark II from 1956, Mr. Wolff had the car moved to the new Lincoln design studio in Dearborn, where it served as inspiration for a new generation of Lincoln designers. In 1956, Lincoln sold the Mark II for a then-exorbitant $10,000, about the same price as a Rolls-Royce and twice that of a Cadillac. Fewer than 3,000 were built. A model once owned by Elvis Presley sold at a charity auction in 1999 for $250,000.

The most iconic Lincoln design may be the 1961 model, considered the masterwork of the legendary designer Elwood Engel, which was seared into the American consciousness as the car in which John F. Kennedy was riding when he was shot in Dallas. It shared with the Mark II an elegant simplicity that was a sharp departure from Detroit’s recent taste for flamboyant tail fins. The 1961 Continental has attracted a cult following and has been featured in numerous films as well as the opening credits of the HBO series “Entourage.”

“I look at the 1961 Continental and I see beautiful proportions, great details, elegant restraint, with just the right amount of chrome,” Mr. Wolff said. “In that sense, there are some similarities. If you look at the MKZ, you’ll see some of the same craftsmanship and detail, but it’s very simple. There’s not a bit of added surface language. It’s refined and elegant. But we’re not reimagining the past. It’s not a retro look. We wanted to break the mold. It’s provocative for Lincoln, and we believe it will change people’s perceptions.”

Well done, Ford!  My fingers are crossed for the future of this great brand.


Many baseball ball parks are banning chewing (or smokeless) tobacco –probably not such a big leap (after all, remember those old-fashioned “No expectorating” signs meant to stop the spitting-inclined?).

But peanuts?  Can this actually be happening in America?

Apparently it is. 

I’m the last person to make light of serious medical conditions, but the recent trend to ban peanuts at baseball parks because of people with peanut allergies has forced me to ask the question: “Are the inmates running the asylum?”

Not yet.  So far, the move has been restricted to peanut-free seating, but Fenway banned peanuts for an entire 226-person section and the effort is growing to institute a complete ban.

The argument by the anti-peanut people is that even the smell of peanuts can drive allergic reactions –wafting aromas of roasting peanuts are forbidden. 

My sense is that this is lawyer-driven thinking on the part of ball parks –trying to stave off the inevitable law suit– rather than comprehensive and commonsense marketing that remembers the old take me out to the ball game spirit of baseball and insists on the rights and experience of the majority.

Sure, peanut allergies have doubled in a decade in the US.  But we’re not talking about a school where people with peanut allergies have to attend.  We’re talking about a voluntary activity and the fact that being overly cautious for a very small number of voluntary attendees deprives baseball and the vast majority of fans of an integral part of the experience.


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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY: Brands need to take into account all opinions and feedback but ultimately must be governed by the majority –not the minority.








Leave a Reply

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