Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Tommy Hilfiger and Belvedere Vodka


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


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

Winner: Tommy Hilfiger


Loser:  Belvedere Vodka



The winner this week is a simple testament to the power that is unleashed when two great brands come together.

I’m talking about Tommy Hilfiger’s role on American Idol.

Talk about a great way for a brand that has terrific visibility but is struggling ratings-wise (American Idol)  to harness another great brand that can use some access to a new demographic.

For Hilfiger, even if Idol continues to struggle despite him, it doesn’t matter.  His brand has been re-enforced by being seen as coming to the rescue and offering the best image consulting in the biz to a mass audience.  He gets exposure while also re-enforcing brand equity.

Remember this comes after the negative coverage he received by ABC News regarding factory conditions.  That story could have snow-balled out of control if Hilfiger hadn’t immediately enacted a clear and decisive response that acknowledged and addressed the issue –again, excellent brandsmanship.

Well done!


What can I or anyone else say about Belvedere Vodka?

The company has created a firestorm by making an offensive ad that manages to link the darkest side of alcohol and human behavior while simultaneously making fun of a horrible crime.

If anything has shown how devastating guerrilla marketing can be, it’s this Belvedere debacle which saw the vodka company offer an ad that looked like it was depicting a rape and turning it into a joke. 

There’s a reason viral marketing is called viral — after all, virus in the original Latin means poison.  Yes, viral marketing can spread fast, but it spreads fast because it is potent and possibly poisonous.

All publicity is not good publicity and while the company name has been heard by more people than ever before, Belvedere Vodka, a supposedly premium vodka, has demoted its brand from the top shelf to the bottom.

It’s hard to see what the company can do now other than slowly rebuild itsimage without triggering this episode every time.  The company has responded quickly with the CEO making a statement, but, fact is, every time Belvedere is mentioned from here on in, this episode will almost certainly be remembered.

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


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAYGuerrilla marketing can spell disaster marketing if you’re not careful.








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