7 thoughts on “Apples and Oranges

  1. Ellen M says:

    How great to read your thoughts, Jon. Shouldn’t everyone have been tipped off on launch day when Steve Jobs’ iPhone FROZE during his presentation? A nightmare for him; a fair warning for us.

    Johnson & Johnson was advised back in ’82 NOT to relaunch Tylenol because, marketers told them, the brand name was dead. But the CEO (James Burke?) knew that if Tylenol were relaunched it would show confidence in J & J. And, I might add, Tylenol invented the “child proof cap,” which neither Richard Nixon nor myself can open without the use of teeth.

    When Tylenol relaunched, it was hailed as the greatest return from the dead since Lazarus. It sold more units because all of the precautions J & J had taken proved that this was a company you could trust.

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    A great product can make marketers look like geniuses. See Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Mercedes, Honda, Chipotle, Disney, etc. With some exceptions — a few Ronco dandies come to mind — great products are a prerequisite to long-term success in marketing.

    As good as Apple’s marketing has been, I’ve always thought Apple’s secret of success was more about product development than marketing. This chapter is a good reminder for them about how much product development and quality assurance dictates marketing success. Fix the damn antenna, Steve.

  3. Dennis Lang says:

    Wow, terrific essay Professor. While J&J responded full bore at great cost to a calamity that could not have been anticipated for which they had no fault, it still seems to me the course confronting BP was far more complex. They had a crisis and no immediate remedy–relatively speaking at least nowhere as simple as pulling a product off the shelves. Under these exceptional circumstances did you describe how BP could have overcome the universal perception of its disingenuousness?

  4. Great essay and worth a read. Re: BP, and as Dennis implies, I still wonder if their situation is beyond crisis management. In the end, isn’t most crisis communications planning predicated on the idea that, at some point, the thing that caused the crisis will be solved?

    BP could be Zappos or Nordstrom on customer relations, or even J&J in 1982, but they still don’t know how to permanently plug the furshlugginer well. Which keeps people angry, kills seabirds, destroys the shrimp haul and calls into question our entire carbon-based energy infrastructure.

    BP screwed up bad, but I have to cut them some slack in the crisis management department — or at least in communications. I mean, I guess they could have committed the $20B fund earlier, or shut down all of their other offshore operations for a week-long safety check. They could have avoided obvious CEO gaffes and released HD video faster.

    But no strategy of proactive overreaction would have been better than succeeding at plugging the well.

  5. And here I was putting off reading Lambert’s most recent post because I thought that would a be the long, time-consuming one!

    Great essay, Austin. So you’re suggesting BP’s course of action should be to put Tony Hayward in blue jeans and a black turtleneck and just show people some flashy new cut-off valve technology?

  6. Joe Loveland says:

    Because of this antenna issue, Consumer Reports today dropped it’s longstanding recommendation of iPhones. ZDNet:

    Consumer Reports today has released its smartphone ratings (subscription required) and, as much as they’d like to, the publication said it cannot recommend the iPhone 4.

    The magazine’s own tests confirm the signal degradation when users touch the side antenna and, even though there is a fix available by applying duct tape to the antenna or buying a case. The magazine also questioned Apple’s claim that the iPhone 4’s signal-strength issues were caused by miscalculating the bars that are displayed on the device.

    Beyond that, the phone scored high in its rankings. The review says, in part:

    The iPhone scored high, in part because it sports the sharpest display and best video camera we’ve seen on any phone, and even outshines its high-scoring predecessors with improved battery life and such new features as a front-facing camera for video chats and a built-in gyroscope that turns the phone into a super-responsive game controller.

    But that blasted antenna issue is a problem. Consumer Reports says Apple needs to come up with a permanent—and free—fix for the antenna problem before it can recommend the iPhone 4.

    Until then, CR continues to suggest the iPhone 3Gs

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