Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: The Royal Family and the Blackberry PlayBook

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

Brand Winner… And Loser…


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

Winner:  The Royal Family

Loser:  The Blackberry PlayBook





Two hundred and thirty years after the American revolution and there is still only one royal family that really counts: the British Royal Family.

With all the hype over the upcoming wedding of the young British prince (despite polls showing that most Americans don’t care), you have to wonder how a family that should be an anachronism in the modern world has managed to keep going strong.

Jerry Seinfeld recently weighed in on the wedding declaring the royal family and the pageantry nothing but dress up. 

Seinfeld is a great comedian, but he’s wrong about the royal family.  If this was all about dress up and fantasy then they would have been finished long ago, another footnote in the dustbin of history.

Bottom line, the royal family is a brand that has withstood the test of time because of a basic integrity and identity that people can readily grasp and ultimately respect.

The recent hit movie, The King’s Speech, shows us why.  At the center is the struggle of the would-be king to conquer a severe speech impediment in order to speak to his people.

What is never questioned is why on earth would this man work so hard to fix his stammer.  After all, even back then a British monarch didn’t really have genuine power. 

Bottom line, the crown was and is all about service and duty.  That is the brand and in a world where self-dealing and “what’s in it for me” is the general rule, this brand stands out as a kind of counter-example. 

What has made the royal family such a force is its basic consistency.  Sure there have been scandals and mis-steps but what the royal family has done is stayed true to its core characteristics –like any great brand.  And like any great brand, when it has changed and adapted, it has done so carefully rather than recklessly, letting go of some of the royal conventions (i.e. not marrying commoners) but holding onto others.

The result: it’s 2011 and we’re still talking about them.  That is an achievement that is a lot more than play acting


Research In Motion has entered the crowded tablet market with The Blackberry Playbook.

Reviews haven’t been all that bad.

According to the techies, the PlayBook has some real strengths.  For example, unlike the I-Pad it can play Flash video and apparently its word processor is better.  One reviewer even called its display “bright, crisp” and “gorgeous.”

Fact is, Apple’s I-Pad will be hard to beat no matter what, but no brand ever succeeds by delivering products that don’t meet customer needs. 

What RIM has done is a classic branding mistake.  It’s seen a very lucrative but crowded market and jumped in before figuring out what it can offer that the market leader doesn’t.

Sure some of PlayBook’s features might beat the I-Pad, but there are two big problems.  There is virtually no legal content to play on the PlayBook and that means that “gorgeous” display isn’t much good right now for most users.  But, more important, PlayBook doesn’t beat I-Pad on price.

Turn the clock back twenty-five years and we had Apple getting blown out of the water by lesser technology at a much cheaper price point.  That finished Apple then because customers were willing to get less value as long as they could pay a lot less money.

RIM and other competitors need to remember this if they want to dislodge Apple or even take a moderate slice out of the big tablet pie, they will need to launch with a comparable product at much lower cost –even if it means losing money at first.

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



The biggest stumbling block for a brand is inconsistency.









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