Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Rush Limbaugh and GM


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner: Rush Limbaugh


Loser:  GM (The Volt)



Rush Limbaugh the man who rarely, if ever, apologizes has actually done so –and the speed of this apology puts him in the winner column.

Fact is, the bread and butter of his kind of talk radio is controversy and hurling abuse is part of the brand.

But in the face of an advertiser revolt and the reality that he had gone too far even for his audience, Limbaugh has moved quickly and publicly to deal with the crisis he created.

You know you’ve gone off track when your most devoted sponsors reject you.

Sleep Train, who has been with him for 25 years, pulled its support.  It’s not just about the money –though that’s obviously a big part–  it’s about what the decision says about your brand. 

Sleep Train and others could obviously put up with a controversial Limbaugh in the past, but going after Fluke was different.  It was meanspirited and even, arguably, not conservative (where were family values in the suggestion that people pay to watch sex?).

So while Limbaugh has taken some important action, he probably needs to do more.  The next step might be bringing Fluke onto his show and apologizing to her on air, if she is open to it.

In that way, he can make amends and do even more to address the damage he has done.

The danger with veteran media personality brands like Limbaugh is that complacency can creep in, meaning that what should never be said, is said, whether because it’s been a bad day or things simply have gotten out of control in front of the mic. 

Again, the apology is a good start but it needs to be fortified by a little soul and brand searching.


Build it and they will come can be a recipe for disaster.  Fortunately for GM it is a recipe they have not followed in recent years, except for… The Volt.

Last year, GM predicted sales of 10,000 in 2011 and 60,000 in 2012.  Guess what?  Only 7,671 Volts sold in 2011 and so far this year only 1,626.

Now the company is idling the Volt production line.  Good reaction, but where was the marketing common sense in all of this from the start? 

After all, anyone should have been able to tell GM that at $33,500, the Volt’s price point was simply not going to prove attractive to most Americans.

But what about the savings at the pump?  Fuggedaboutit.  With increased fuel efficiency and much lower price tags, many cars still retain the advantage in consumers’ eyes.

Bottom line, you simply can’t create demand and GM should know better. 

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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAYYou simply can’t create demand.








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