One of the Olympic values is that of respect; respect not only of other athletes and the umpires and officials, but also of gender, ethnicity, religion and in fact all human beings no matter how different they are from you.
Respect is vital in our marketing world; a genuine respect for those people who ultimately pay our salaries – that is - our consumers, whoever they may be.
Last night I witnessed what I would consider a lack of respect for a TV channel’s viewers, which was bordering, I would say, on contempt. The media is a tricky subject as it is extremely complex, involving, as it does, the owners, the producers, the artists/personalities and the associated egos, politics and the race for viewers to chase advertising revenue.
France’s TF2 was broadcasting what they could given the difficult Olympic scheduling in Europe due to the time difference with Rio. Following a perfectly reasonable diffusion of France’s silver in women’s judo and bronze in fencing we enjoyed 45 minutes of the women’s team gymnastics final. We watched the USA team complete their seemingly impossible routine, we waited with them for the final scores to confirm their winning position. Then, without warning, the TF2 producers suddenly cut to a breaking story with no immediate relevance. The attentive TV audience was left without the denouement. Just 30 seconds more were needed to find out who won, and see the joy on the winning faces and the disappointment on those who just missed out.
TV needs to stay relevant. The Olympics, (and all great sporting events), remains an area where TV still holds an advantage, for now. It is frustrating to see a national TV station show such a lack of respect for its viewers for an opportunity for more “talking heads”.
Marketing history is littered with costly business errors stemming from a lack of respect for consumers. In the pre internet era, 1991, the head of the leading UK jewellers at the time, Gerald Ratner, once publicly referred to his products as “total crap” indicating his customers were too stupid to notice. That one throwaway comment wiped £500m off his stock price and the name “Ratners” disappeared from the British high street forever.
Ryanair the Irish low cost airline, which for many years famously incurred the wrath of travellers with its cavalier attitude to customer service and opaque pricing was eventually fined, (see here), and has recently brushed up its PR and persuaded its vocal boss, Michael O’Leary, to stop calling it’s customers “idiots”.
Respect for others should be a basic human value. Respect for your consumers should be a fundamental marketing tenet.
The Branding Authority believes everything starts with the consumer.