The Naughty and Nice Brands of 2022 with Matt Williams

This week we have a special holiday episode of the On Brand podcast with the “Naughty and Nice Brands of 2022.” This seasonally appropriate snapshot of brand behavior was developed by the smart folks at Brand Federation. The consultancy’s Chief Growth Officer Matt Williams joined me to discuss which brands have been naughty and nice this year.

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About Matt Williams

Matt Williams is Chief Growth Officer for Brand Federation, a brand strategy consultancy in Richmond, Virginia. Prior to joining Brand Federation in 2019, Williams was CEO of the Martin Agency, one of the world’s most recognized advertising agencies, where he managed strategy development for world-class brands like GEICO, OREO, UPS, Discover Financial, Walmart, and more. Williams also is a Clinical Professor in the marketing department at the Mason School of Business at William & Mary. He teaches in the MBA program and is the developer and Faculty Director of the school’s Online Masters in Marketing.

The Naughty List

2022 was the year of billionaires behaving badly. Here are a few of the ones we talked about.

Twitter, Elon Musk—The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, created a $44 billion cash bonfire by buying and systematically destroying Twitter. “The ‘Chief Twit,’” as Williams called Musk, “deserves a boulder size lump of coal.”

FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried—Good virtual eye contact; work to bring your hands up and into gestures to reinforce key points. Brands built on false promises don’t stand long. Matt and I further discussed what this meant for “the brand of crypto.”

Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes—Holmes, a self-made billionaire who served as CEO of Theranos, built the company into a promising brand—on a foundation of lies. It collapsed because of dishonesty, lack of transparency, and overall bad behavior at the top, and it earned Holmes an 11-year prison sentence this year.

How about some nice brands and billionaires?

The Nice List

“The words ’nice’ and ‘billionaires’ aren’t typically heard together,” joked Matt as we began our discussion of the other half of the list. However, several billionaires and brands used their powers for good this year.

Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard—Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, built a worldwide brand known for sustainability. This year, Chouinard transferred his ownership in the outdoor apparel company, valued at $3 billion, to a trust designed to protect the company’s independence and donate its profits – often north of $100 million annually—to protecting our planet. Brands built on purposeful behavior endure.

Dolly Parton, Doggy Parton—Country music icon and entrepreneur Dolly Parton launched her Doggy Parton collection of pet dog accessories, merging her love of animals with her can-do philanthropy. A portion of every sale supports animal rescue efforts. Jeff Bezos even recognized the power of Dolly Parton, writing her a check for $100 million to spend on charitable causes.

Eileen Fisher, Eileen Fisher—“Fashion isn’t always nice,” Matt began. However, Fisher built a fashion empire that supported more realistic apparel for women of every age and body type. And instead of taking her company public, she began transferring ownership to employees in 2006. Today, as Fisher steps away from the brand’s leadership, employees own nearly half the company.

Want more naughty and nice? Check out Brand Federation’s full article on the Naughty and Nice Brands of 2022 and watch their latest episode of Beer & Brands.

Finally …

What brand has made Matt smile recently? As always, with the list focus of this annual episode, I was worried that I’d taken all of Matt’s “smiles.” However, he assured me that he had one left. And a timely one at that with the World Cup—USA soccer. “They represent great brand behavior by seeking pay equity for their women’s team.”

To learn more about Matt Williams, check out the Brand Federation website.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!