Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Jeremy Lin and Mitt Romney’s Elephant


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner: Jeremy Lin


Loser:  Mitt Romney’s Elephant



Success is where opportunity meets preparedness –and there’s always got to be a little bit of luck too.

In Jeremy Lin’s case, all of that is there, but what matters most is that there are solid sports branding reasons behind him.  As a result, we are probably witnessing the birth of one of the greatest sports brands of all time.

First you have the “Call-u” effect.  C for connectivity.  A for attractiveness.  L for longevity.  L for likeability.  U for uniqueness.  This is a quick assessment tool to get a rough idea of the potential value of a personality brand.

Lin has each of these five features in abundance.

Next, you have add the fact that Lin is an athlete and hence a performance brand (i.e., the fundamental support for his brand is his continued achievement on the court).  Given that Lin seems to have arrived as a player and should maintain his dominance, then the “Call-u” factors should all support and add value to his brand.

For example, you can have a great performance brand –take Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez— but without the connectivity and likeability components, you simply can’t achieve stratospheric brand value. 

But Lin has more than either “Call-u” or performance, he has an inspirational story that has already made history.  On top of that, he has the massive potential of combining an adoring Chinese audience globally with a huge and adoring non-Chinese audience. 

Sometimes a difference in degree is a difference in kind and the size of Lin’s possible following could re-define what it means to be an international brand.

The bottom line is this: not only are we witnessing the birth of one of the greatest sport brands of all time in terms of total value, but we are also witnessing a brand that will raise the profile of other brands like Harvard, his alma mater, and should we even go a bit farther afield brand-wise?  Why not?  Lin’s heritage is Taiwanese.  Will he use his personal brand and basketball to bridge the gulf between the mainland and the island of his heritage?

Stay tuned.  Here’s what I said about Jeremy on Fox.


Folks, Mitt Romney has an elephant in the room that is threatening his campaign.  This particular elephant follows him onto the campaign bus, is at every event, stands behind him at each podium –in short, this elephant will never go away and can never be ignored no matter how much Mitt Romney may try to wish for it.

Many candidates for high office in our great land are familiar with Romney’s kind of elephant.  For the most part they, too, try to ignore it and for the most part this is successful because their elephants are fed on professional salaries and speaker fees.

Not so for Romney.  I’m speaking about his huge personal wealth and the fact that if he hopes to win the GOP nomination, let alone the presidency, it is high time for him to not only acknowledge this elephant, but praise it.

That’s right, Mitt Romney needs to be honest and admit that he’s rich –no, he needs to trumpet this fact (please excuse the pun).

You see, Romney is a likeable man but because he’s not being upfront about this one issue, he has erected a wall between himself and the American people. 

Since when has being rich been a crime in America?  Romney must deliver the speech.  Not about religion and not about a grand vision for America.

Mitt Romney must endorse himself, all that he is, by saying something like this: I’m rich and I’m proud of it.  I’m not proud of it for selfish reasons, but for what it says about this country and opportunity.  I’m rich because I was given a chance to work hard and get rewarded for that work.

From there Romney needs to underscore that wealth in America must not become fodder for class warfare and that income mobility has and will be one of the defining qualities of our nation.

The Romney campaign has to ask itself why it is that Michael Bloomberg’s vast wealth, many multiples ahead of relatively poor Mitt, was a virtue for the New York mayor.

The answer is pretty straightforward.  Bloomberg was smart enough never to make it an issue by never, ever, denying the obvious.  Moreover, he harnessed his curriculum vitae to drive the perception that he was a great manager and a superb businessman who could breath fresh life into city government.

Bloomberg didn’t even curtail his Bermuda getaways.  Why should he –he essentially argued– this is America and there is no law against using the fruits of one’s labor however one chooses?  After all, we celebrate the monetary success of those in other areas like sports and entertainment — most people would never think of going after Oprah for her wealth or Tom Cruise for his.

If Romney has religious scruples around this question (such as appearing to lack humility), he can use them for the broader message that his personal wealth is ultimately not about him.  Romney can tie his wealth to the immigrant story and the goal of economic freedom and freedom from too much government regulation and interference.

In marketing, the core features of a product can never be denied. 

Romney is a rich man.  That is a core feature.  And for Romney being rich is a virtue not a vice –but only if he embraces it.

It’s time that the elephant gets out of the living room and begins pulling this campaign.

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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAYIf you have feature that is central to your brand, you can never ignore it or act as if it doesn’t exist.








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