Is Gibson Ready for Its Encore?

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Wharton's Americus Reed, David Robertson and Kieth Niedermeier discuss Gibson's reemergence from bankruptcy.

Some of the most iconic moments in music have been played on a Gibson guitar. But lately, the company has fallen on some tough times.

Gibson filed for bankruptcy in May and is expected to relaunch in November. Its new leadership team, headed by new president and CEO James “JC” Curleigh, who previously served as president of the Levi’s brand at Levi Strauss & Co., took over on November 1.

The Nashville-based company was founded in 1902 in Kalamazoo, Mich., and musicians including BB King, Les Paul and Slash from Guns N Roses are famous for playing its instruments. A few years ago, Gibson tried to branch out and become more of a lifestyle brand. It had some expensive failures and ended up with a lot of debt it couldn’t handle.

Knowledge@Wharton talked with Wharton marketing professor Americus Reed, Wharton practice professor of operations, information and decisions David Robertson and Wharton adjunct marketing professor Keith Niedermeier about where Gibson went wrong, how it can make a comeback and what advice they would give to the company’s new leadership team.

Listen to the podcast using the player at the top of the page. You can listen using the players below to our full conversations with each professor and see links to learn more about their research.

Americus Reed

Read: Americus Reed on Dunkin Donuts & IHOP’s name changes, marketing to digital natives and the effectiveness of apologies as marketing campaigns.

David Robertson

Read: David Robertson on an open letter to Gibson’s new CEO, the impact of ‘little ideas’ on companies’ innovation strategies and how LEGO brought itself back from the brink by getting back to its roots.

Keith Niedermeier

Read: Keith Niedermeier on luxury brands going online, how brands are getting ready for Generation Z and how business professors are reaching their students through rock ‘n’ roll.

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