Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Katie Couric and Facebook


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner:  Katie Couric


Loser:  Facebook



Not too long ago I argued that Katie would never be the next Oprah and that she should stick to morning chat and steer clear of both afternoons and any serious news duties.  Here’s that post.

I still stand by many of my points in that piece, but, folks, here’s the thing with personality brands: the “person” in the personality makes all the difference.

In an effort to re-introduce Katie Couric to the audience and generate buzz, ABC is basically conducting a traditional sampling approach.  We’re seeing Katie pop up on different shows, doing different segments –the intent is to remind the viewers how good she is.

And, wow, is she good!  That’s my point and why she’s our winner of the week. 

There was something that made her such a valuable TV personality and professional and that something is still there in spades.

The network will definitely have to help build an audience, but let me revise my earlier opinion: Couric will never be Oprah, she will always be Couric, but Couric is back and she’s about to prove it.


Folks, with the company’s IPO rumored to happen next year, but it’s “stock” falling on private markets, Facebook is our loser of the week –but not because of fickle market estimates  and speculation, but because of a single profound marketing miscalculation.

And, folks, you’ve heard it hear first: forget the 1 billion users, forget the traffic, unless Facebook changes course we may very well be witnessing the beginning of the end for this social media company.


We’ve explored it here, not too long ago, but now we are beginning to see the effects.  The effects of what?  The effects of a company being driven by an internal vision, in this case Zuckerberg’s Law, instead of what its customers/users want.

Zuckerberg’s Law is essentially an informal but pretty rigid idea that total personal transparency is the way of the future and that the more sharing of tastes, habits, beliefs and behavior the better.

Of course, this conveniently fits the company’s rich data-mining revenue generating model, but, put that aside, and the real problem is that this philosophy, implemented the way Facebook now has dope it, especially through its Timeline feature, which curates the lives of its users, probably does not align with the tastes, desires or interests of its users.

Let me give you an example.  Someone I know second-hand, a journalist, was shocked last week when the web-reading behavior of another journalist, and Facebook friend, started popping up for him to see.  The journalist was shocked because a) he had not requested or sought in any way to see this information and b) the journalist doing the web-reading had not intentionally shared his behavior, it had all happened automatically.  The point was that the “sharing” journalist was a pretty conservative fellow looking at some pretty racy material –he could have been doing this for work, of course— and this was going out to everyone he knew.

That’s the anecdote.  Now for the technical appraisal from leading consumer computing site CNet.

Reporter, Molly Wood, has followed Facebook closely and believes that the company and its Open Graph plan (which is essentially about making Zuckerberg’s Law a reality) is consciously determined to “quantify everything you do on Facebook.” 

But Molly’s real gripe –and it’s on the money— is that automatic sharing, privacy issues aside, actually hurts social networking.  Her story is here, by the way, but it’s worth re-posting some of her thoughts:

Sharing is the key to social networking. It’s the underlying religion that makes the whole thing work. “Viral” is the magic that every marketing exec is trying to replicate, and Facebook is seriously messing with that formula. Plus, it’s killing the possibility of viral hits by generating such an overwhelming flood of mundane shares.

Let’s say all of us jump on the Open Graph bandwagon and allow app after app to passively post our every Web move. We’ll simply have opened the door to a horde of zombie posts that will overwhelm our interest and deaden us to the possibility of organic discovery.

Sharing and recommendation shouldn’t be passive. It should be conscious, thoughtful, and amusing–we are tickled by a story, picture, or video and we choose to share it, and if a startling number of Internet users also find that thing amusing, we, together, consciously create a tidal wave of meme that elevates that piece of media to viral status. We choose these gems from the noise. Open Graph will fill our feeds with noise, burying the gems.

The point is that Facebook has made a very serious decision with consequences that are just too difficult for them to predict.

What we do know from almost two hundred years of marketing and about social media in particular is this: when you ignore your customer, you lose.  It happened to MySpace and it could happen again.

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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY – Even if you think you have the most brilliant plan in the world –especially if you think this— take a serious step back and think through just how it will affect your customers and potential customers.








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