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October 7, 2001

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Big Brands Big Trouble

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 6:47 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Big Brands Big Trouble: Lessons Learned the Hard Way by Jack Trout, John Wiley and Sons, 195 Pages, $24.95 Hardcover, October 2001, ISBN 0471414328
Jack Trout has co-written some of the classic marketing titles, such as Marketing Warfare and Positioning, and the fantastically titled, Differentiate or Die. His new book is a fun read about failure. Is that possible? Definitely. A useful perspective also. Trout states: Not only is learning from failure easier, it offers more thorough analysis of what works and what doesnt. So from this look at some of the classic failures like New Coke, to Burger Kings many management and advertising agency changes, to Levi Strauss problems connecting to the marketplace, we learn the ten donts of marketing, positioning, and managing.
I have read other books by Trout, but in this one, he includes more personal experiences, which adds a fly on the wall feel to our reading experience. He shares details about visits with clients, the resulting ideas and strategies, and how those ideas succeeded or failed. Some of the companies that rate an entire chapter include: the aforementioned Burger King and Levi Strauss, AT&T, Xerox, GM, Firestone, Miller Brewing, and others. I was especially interested in what Trout had to say about our local brewer, Miller, what problems they are having and how they got there. Hilariously, Trout illustrates how Miller has too many brands, and that it is so much easier for a customer to say: Oh just give me a Budweiser.
In the second half of the book, he discusses consultants, boards of directors, and other general issues influencing the decision-making of each company. Each chapter has great takeaways or, as he calls them, Lessons, which are boxed and highlighted. The book is broken into bite-sized chunks only a couple of paragraphs long and chock full of great stories. I think the story on page 78 is worth the price of admission check it out. This is one of those books that, after youve finished with it, you feel as if you have just spent a night sitting on the front porch, drinking beer and watching the sun set, while listening to a real pro tell stories.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.