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


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner:  Steve Buscemi


Loser:  Netflix



Folks, actor Steve Buscemi has just received an Emmy nomination for lead actor.  He plays Nucky Johnson on HBO’s hit show Boardwalk Empire… 

But that’s not the reason he’s our winner this week. 

Buscemi is our winner because he has consistently refused to fix his teeth.

Now, Buscemi doesn’t have what you’d exactly call leading man good looks.  But Buscemi is fine with that and he’s smart enough to know that when your brand has hit its stride you don’t tinker.  As his fame has grown, many dentists have approached him with the offer to fix his teeth for free.  Great publicity for them, of course, and you’re knee jerk reaction might be that it’s a win for Buscemi too.

But Buscemi has always said no.  His answer has been simple: “I won’t work again if you fix my teeth.”

That’s called knowing your brand.

Some other very successful actors and singers understand this.  Kirsten Dunst, Anna Paquin, Jewel and Miley Cyrus all have less than perfect teeth.  And all of them have refused to fix them. 

Talk about brand wisdom.


In the past, I’ve praised Netflix for being a brand visionary.  After all, long before anyone else, the company positioned itself to prosper in the streaming video and movie market.

But last week the company did something inexplicable and, quite frankly, bad for their brand.  They raised their prices by a whopping 60%.

Not only that, but they did so for no clear reason.  New York Times tech guru, David Pogue, confessed that he had read Netflix’s explanation for the price rise over five times and still didn’t understand why.

But he concluded that even though there didn’t seem to be a why other than they wanted to make more money, Netflix still offers the best deal among all its competitors in video rental and streaming online content –it just isn’t as good a deal as it used to be.

Still, this move is enough of a reason to place them in the loser column from a brand perspective.

Sure, they might make a lot more money in the short-term, but, fact is, they are going to alienate an awfully large number of their customers (within hours Netflix’s Facebook page clocked 44,000 outraged messages).

Price rises are a delicate branding calculation.  You must always put your customers’ experience in the foreground and make them a genuine partner in deciding if and how to raise prices. 

Again, in the short run Netflix might do fine, but in the long run as competitors continue to emerge, the company’s customer base will be much more willing to defect…and in the subscription business that can be fatal for a brand.

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



TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY –  Pricing is part of your brand’s contract with your Target Market.  Tread carefully.








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