Adjunct Professor of Marketing,
New York University

President and Founder,
ThirdWay Brand Trainer

David Vinjamuri is Adjunct Professor of Marketing at New York University and President of ThirdWay Brand Trainers. David has more than 18 years of experience in marketing and management with companies including Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Citibank and DoubleClick. David trains corporate marketers at leading companies. David speaks widely, has been quoted in Business Week and was the featured speaker on the Queen Mary 2 in January, 2006.

The Human Side of Talking Heads

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 | Posted by David

TAF LogoThis morning I was on Fox Business News.  It wasn’t the first time but the tenth.  While I was there I realized that I’ve officially become a talking head.  Today was a little different though.  I was there to talk about a re-branding that the new owners of The Athlete’s Foot are undertaking.  They are changing the name to TAF and moving to a variety of store formats that will add more apparel and cater to more segments including the Abercrombie & Fitch crowd and urban kids.

I really did not like the re-branding plan because I thought it was walking away from the core expertise of The Athlete’s Foot (who used to be positioned as experts in technical footwear) and because I think acronyms are very confusing for consumers.

The other nine times I’ve been on Fox I’ve either agreed with a company spokesperson or disagreed without seeing the human face I was disagreeing with.  This time was different because I was brought on almost immediately after the new marketing director, Darius Billings, and I had to basically say that I thought he was wrong and that his plan wouldn’t work.

I suspect that most talking heads on business networks are stock analysts, consultants or academics.  I’m not.  Yes, I do teach at NYU, but I spent over 15 years on the client side at places like Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson.  So when I am watching Darius, I am thinking that he seems like a very nice guy, that this probably was not his plan to begin with but something handed to him by his CEO who is an investment guy, not a marketer and that I am basically trashing his plan on national television.  And I know exactly what that might feel like.   And I realize at the same time that even a bad branding strategy executed well might work, at least for a while.  So he might be able to do exactly what his bosses are asking from him.

This makes the talking head business a bit more difficult.  I’m still happy to do it, but now I see that there may be human consequences.


Tags: General

2 Responses to “The Human Side of Talking Heads”

  1. Ingrid Arna Says:
    September 26th, 2008 at 6:52 am

    I think it is great that you take a stand and express your opinion honestly. It is the only way to go!

  2. User links about "accidental" on iLinkShare Says:
    May 7th, 2009 at 9:18 am

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