Razr_1 Winner: Razr

The Razr is the only cellphone is focused on being a phone. It is small, sleek, stylish and selling like crazy.

Since unveiling the handset in November 2004, Motorola says it sold 12 million Razr phones worldwide as of October 1. More than half of those sales, 6.5 million, took place in the last quarter. That is despite the fact it was only made available last month to Verizon customers.

As a Verizon customer, I bought mine the other day as soon as I realized they were available and found the store selling them like hotcakes.

Motorola has re-pioneered the small phone where every other phone company has been busy adding features, size and bulk.

But not all is perfect. Motorola struck out with a brand called Rokr, a product that tried to combine a cellphone with an MP3 player. The brand fell flat with the critics and consumers.

In the end, if Motorola keeps the Razr focused on phones and forgets the silly convergence ideas, they will keep a winning brand in my hands and maybe your hands for a long time to come.

Budweiser_select_budbottle Loser: Bud Select

I thought about selecting the Green Bay Packers as the worst brand of the year. (My husband’s parents grew up in Green Bay and every game day drive from Peoria to watch the Pack play at Lambeau Field. My father-in-law’s favorite story is that my husband Scott was in-utero during the famed Ice Bowl in 1967.) But 2005, with Bret Farve on his last legs, was not a good year for the Green & Gold. Although adding insult to injury about the Packers on my blog would likely lead to a Brown family excommunication.

So instead, my choice of the worst and craziest brand this year is Bud Select. Does the world really need another flavor of Budweiser?

The answer is no. How many flavors of Bud can they dream up anyway?

Let’s take a recap of the selection so far:

Budweiser

Bud Light

Bud Ice

Bud Ice Light

Bud Dry

and now Bud Select.

Bud Select is by far the worst of the line extensions at Anheuser-Busch. A close second and third goes to Anheuser World Lager and Be; but I just don’t have time to go into the craziness of those extensions at the moment.

The other Budweiser extensions (Light, Dry, Ice) suggest flavor variations. Bud Select suggests that all the other flavors of Budweiser, the “unselected” ones don’t measure up.

Why knock Bud Light, the largest-selling individual beer brand in America? Let Miller do that.

The problem is, Miller has been doing just that. But introducing Bud Select only gives Miller more fire. Bud Light must be a lousy tasting beer if they need to introduce a better-tasting beer called Bud Select. Bud Select just adds more water to the Budweiser brand pretty soon they might as well call it Evian.

Airborne Honorable mention: Airborne

Airborne, the folksy cold-prevention remedy invented by a second grade school teacher hit sales of $90 million in 2004 and more than doubled that in 2005. Without any advertising but plenty of PR, word-of-mouth and celebrity endorsements, the brand has become a blockbuster. The tipping point seemed to be an October 2004 episode of the Oprah show which spotlighted the brand. Sales for the brand on Drugstore.com jumped 700% the next week. Beginning this year with new competition hitting the shelves, the company has begun a reported $20 million advertising effort. Using PR to build the brand with a wonderful credible spokesperson like teacher/developer Victoria Knight-McDowell and waiting until the brand takes off to advertise is always the right way to go.

Myself like many others have become passionate about the brand. I will be traveling a lot in 2006 and I won’t be going anywhere without out this little insurance tonic.