Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Michael Phelps and WikiLeaks


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner: Michael Phelps


Loser:  WikiLeaks



Folks, Michael Phelps.  What other two words mean “brand winner”?

Phelps has just done what no one else has and no one else will for a long time: he has won 19 Olympic medals.

Despite the over-zealous copyright and trademark spirit of these Olympics, Michael Phelps stands out as a reminder of what it means to be a winning brand.

He has overcome so many challenges in his time, but the slow start at these Olympics might have been one of the bigger ones.  After all, a lesser athlete might have been derailed by not doing well to start.  But instead Phelps rallied and won.

Phelps might win more medals still, but already he’s reminded us that great brands never give up, never surrender.


One of the worst things a brand can do is take action that contradicts its core principle whatever that principle is. 

WikiLeaks has just done this and my guess is it could spell the death of this new brand.

First, what is this core principle?  Let’s say it’s to traffic in the truth no matter how problematic that might be for other people.  You might agree or disagree about whether they’ve really done this, but this is basically what they are considered to be doing.

So how did they violate this principle?  They circulated a hoax opinion editorial purportedly written by a former New York Times editor.

Wow!  Not too bright.  If you traffic in the truth, you can’t suddenly start trafficking in falsehood.  It’s as simple as that.and this kind of brand disconnection might just be enough to rip the already troubled WikiLeaks apart.

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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY: Identify your brand’s core principle and stick to it.








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