Branding and marketing are the best contemporary constructs for analyzing the day's issues. Let's look at brand winners and losers for 2023, as we leave this eventful, tumultuous year.
1. Taylor Swift
Even though Ms. Swift had a head start as a brand by coming from a prosperous family, there is no doubt that she is a brand to be reckoned with regardless of her privileged pedigree.
With her new moniker, "2023 Time Person of the Year," edging out such luminati as Xi Jinping, Putin, King Charles, and Jerome Powell, along with the sold-out performances, not to mention her Social Media dominance with almost 95 million followers, there is no question that she is a 2023 Brand Winner.
2. Tucker Carlson
Taking lemons and making lemonade best describes Brand Carlson and why he is on the 2023 Brand Winner List.
After being fired from Fox News, his resilient Brand returned from the proverbial ashes only to make himself more popular than ever.
His interview with Donald Trump as a competitor to the First GOP Debate (Aug. 24, 2023) with respectable number of 74 million views, according to statistics on the platform formerly known as Twitter and his entrance into the subscription streaming market makes Tucker's Brand a force within the streaming news space.
In a business where a mistake can cost a company dearly, conservative Network Newsmax has benefited from FNC's missteps over the last few months.
From the firing of the beloved Tucker Carlson to the Network's more center-left perception of social warrior issues, Newsmax has played it correctly.
In a recent CNN column on Dec. 8, 2023, Newsmax beat Fox News "in the key 25- to 54-year-old demographic with Greg Kelly Reports" on Newsmax, which out-rated "The Story with Martha MacCallum" on Fox.
According to CNN: "the margin was narrow — Kelly averaged 229,000 viewers in the demo, and MacCallum averaged 203,000 — but it is still a milestone in the cable news industry."
The times are changing, and Newsmax is taking advantage of Fox's unforced errors.
Starbucks chief executive Laxman Narasimhan has shown unusual courage in calling out protestors who support Hamas and who criticize the Brand's pro-Israel backing of the Israel-Hamas War initiated by terrorists on Israeli citizens.
In today's Social Media world, where emotion is replaced, it takes strong ideals to stand up to the fleeting wishes of the mob. In a letter to Starbucks employees, Narasimhan said: "We see protesters influenced by misrepresentation of what we stand for on social media." Starbucks' maintaining its position without yielding to outside influences makes the Brand a 2023 winner.
"Marketingnomics" is the belief that satisfying customer needs comes first by placing a company's profits above politically popular policies. In other words, a company's profits trump politically popular policies, especially when a Brand's customers disagree with the political positions taken by the organization's woke leadership.
Disney and Bud Light are two examples who could benefit from a Marketingnomics policy, which is why American Corporate Boardrooms need to consider this new construct.
And Now . . . Let' Look at This Year's Marketing Losers:
Why? With 7,000 layoffs — which represent 3.2% of Disney's total number of about 220,000 worldwide to achieve about $5.5 billion in cost savings due, in fact, to decreasing revenue brought about woke policies and content not accepted by the Brand's customers.
It's relatively simple.
It is not about you as the marketer; it's instead all about your customer.
They, the customers, are the final judge of a brand's success.
When Disney gets that right, they will experience a change in their fortunes. Yes, it's so easy when you know the language.
2. Bud Light
When a blue-collar brand, Bud Light, headed by a white-collar Ivy League-educated woke beer executive, decides to use a trans spokesperson, Dylan Mulvaney, you intuitively know, if you are not woke, that this is a choice headed for disaster. When a marketer chooses a spokesperson, the choice must be identifiable to the Target Market, aka the customer.
Only when groupthink takes over decision-making can an elementary mistake like Dylan Mulvaney be made. Thinking should replace all forms of feeling for brands to become winners, not losers.
3. Fox News
When a brand is number one, like everything else in life, succumbing to hubris is easy.
In politics, it is often said that you run as if you are losing; that way, you will not be surprised by the outcome, that you will win.
Just ask Hillary Clinton, who thought that denial was a river in Egypt, and why she lost to Donald Trump in 2016.
Fox's missteps by firing Tucker Carlson, their Voting Machine settlement, and their movement to more woke and center-left positions made them persona no grata to their loyal conservative viewers.
These decisions have all led to an erosion in its audience that its competitor, Newsmax, has since maximized.
4. Harvard University
Hubris takes down another august brand — Harvard University. With its tagline, Veritas, meaning truth in Latin, the University has compromised its values in place of the politically expedient, thereby damaging the Brand’s reputation.
If they had used truth as their guide, they could have continued to be the Brand that stood for something. It is why Harvard is a 2023 brand loser.
Wokeness, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "is the state or condition of being woke (as in matters of racial and social justice)."
If everything one does is woke, then the term loses its meaning.
One must be careful not to lose sight that wokeness should be abandoned.
It must be used sparingly to avoid destroying brands when customers may not be as sensitive as those making the decisions. Because of its adverse effects on brands and the recent movement away from wokeness, at least from a social justice perspective, wokeness is a 2023 brand loser.
Dr. John Tantillo is a Lander College for Men, Touro University marketing professor. He also teaches Social Media Marketing at Touro University's Graduate School of Business. Dr. Tantillo hosts the popular podcast BrandTalk, another way to talk, be heard and seen on YouTube. He is the author of: "People Buy Brands Not Companies." You can follow him on Twitter @marketingdoctor and at Facebook.com/dr.johntantillo. Read Dr. John Tantillo's Reports — More Here.
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