Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Neil Armstrong and Lance Armstrong


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner: Neil Armstrong


Loser:  Lance Armstrong



Folks, this is the tale of two Armstrongs.

The Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius once said: never judge a man until after he was dead.  His point was obvious, but it is easily overlooked in this age of celebrity. 

Bottom line, you don’t really get the full picture of a person until all the facts are in.  It is easy to be dazzled or misled, but Aurelius was saying you really need to wait awhile to get a sense of someone’s character.

As everyone knows now, Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, died last week.

His is a brand that has withstood Aurelius’ test of character.  Some called him unnecessarily reclusive at times, but he had to navigate the incredible demands of the kind of celebrity that arguably no one has ever had to navigate before –and he did it by somehow deflecting attention from himself and onto the team that enabled him to get there…  Even though at many critical moments in the mission itself (including a last-minute landing change with only 17 seconds of fuel left), it was his cool-headedness and decision-making that saved the day.

Ultimately, what we are left with when we think of Neil Armstrong is a true American hero who never let us down.  May he rest in peace.


With one Armstrong’s example fresh in mind, it is genuinely sad to move to another.

I’m talking about Lance whose decision last week to stop fighting doping charges means that he will probably be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

Fact is, no matter what the sponsors and fans who are not abandoning him say now, Lance has just cast a permanent cloud over his brand.

Sure, he’s done a tremendous amount in the fight against cancer, but so much of what makes athletes heroes is that their superior performance doesn’t come with question marks — he inspired people because he became the best cyclist after his battle with cancer.  He inspired us because he never gave up.

One of the curious things now is why the big sponsors and fans haven’t immediately abandoned him.  That probably has a lot to do with the reputation of the brand behind the doping charges — The United States Anti-Doping Agency– which has had some brand reputation issues itself and Armstrong’s personal charisma.

This NY Times article about Lance is worth reading

But the point is this: no matter what people are saying right now, Armstrong has given up the fight he said he would never give up.  That kind of brand contradiction matters: you simply can’t be a champion and give up.  End of story.

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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY: For brands to be successful they must be consistent.








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