“One on-air personality said management’s view was ‘if we build it, they will come.’ They didn’t.”
As we routinely tell our clients, the days of “if you build it, they will come” ended after Field of Dreams.
The notable and relatively new entrant to the American news mediascape, Al Jazeera America, is scheduled to shut down by April 30, 2016. While there are heaping reasons for this abrupt termination, the vast majority involve marketing failures. From a doomed name and laughable Al Gore connection to a poor understanding of the market and public management failures – all roads pointed to a disastrous conclusion.
Al Gore became a joke after surrendering the 2000 U.S. Presidential election to George W. Bush. His one-note-Johnny routine about climate change while owning a massive energy-swallowing home, sexual harassment of a masseuse, and separating from his wife, led to a steep decline of his stature in politics and environmentalism. He also was a partial owner of Current TV, a low-level cable television network in the United States. It was the sale of this network that not only allowed the foothold for Al Jazeera America, but helped to further erode Al Gore’s reputation. He was harshly criticized for selling an American media company to terrorists.
Strangely, no one cared about Current TV before it’s sale to Al Jazeera – with one notable moment of exception. Two of its journalists were arrested after crossing the North Korean border in 2009. Their investigative reporting skills did not include map reading. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (the former boss of their current boss) secured their release. Thus ended the newsworthiness of Current TV until it was sold. At it’s height, the network reached a paltry 31,000 viewers per day. Total. To Gore’s credit, he was able to sell the network with almost no audience to the Qatari government for $500,000,000. (That’s $16,129 per viewer!)
Within the first two months of Al Jazeera America, it shed nearly two-thirds of that audience and reached a pathetic 13,000 people per day. Total.
Even MSNBC was over 120,000 per day.
For reasons that continue to elude employees, observers, and the American public, Al Jazeera’s management never seemed to fully understand the poison pill presented by their name. Given the public hesitation to anything Arab or Muslim after September 11th, it should have been easy to grasp the need for a more acceptable brand name. Presenting an Arab news network with an Arab name and a terrible reputation in the United States seemed puzzling. Unfairly, most Americans only associated Al Jazeera with their occasional broadcasts of propaganda from Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. But perception was reality and perception began on day one.
This brand crisis was only magnified by their Arabic logo. America is a melting pot and has learned to listen to foreign names all the time. There are Arab construction companies, racing teams, and many other Arab-named entities in the U.S. But to actually use a logo written in Arabic was a visual reminder that Al Jazeera America had nothing to do with America. It is difficult to convince anyone you’re American if everything about you is not.
Their brand was an American disaster visually and audibly.
The conundrum of bad branding was strangely mitigated by a limited audience. It is hard to make a terrible first impression if you aren’t allowed to make the first impression. Just days before Al Jazeera America was set to go on air, AT&T U-verse dropped the channel. This followed prior decisions by Comcast and Time Warner Cable not to air the station at all. Their possible audience size now dropped precipitously below 100 million homes.
Technology and regulation also posed a problem. The still-successful Al Jazeera English is the English language version of Al Jazeera. It is popular on a global scale, especially it’s internet stream. But Al Jazeera was trying to build a TV network, not a stream. So they prohibited streaming to the US. That narrow-minded decision again limited their exposure and opportunities to drive traffic to their fledgling American network. The CEO, Al Anstey, admitted as much with this line from the email announcing the station’s closure: “The decision is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in an increasingly digital world, and because of the current global financial challenges.”
Al Jazeera never succeeded but it was not due to a poorly produced product. They won every major journalism and media award possible including the Emmy, Peabody, and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University awards. The hired top talent away from other TV news networks and other journalism media. Although occasionally accused of having a “Middle East bias” in their coverage, they were routinely recognized for being objective and presenting a unique voice in American media.
But no one will give you a chance to be objective in their home if they think it comes from the mouth of a terrorist.
Al Jazeera Management Failures
Every single one of the problems listed above could be fixed by a stable and competent management team. Al Jazeera America never found that team. They were in a constant state of management “desperation” as they made frequent changes and suffered internal drama. Every department saw departures as Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar applied constant pressure for success. Few were ever managing long enough to make a difference.
In some instances, these personnel shifts and a substantial wrongful termination lawsuit, once again brought forth the idea of an anti-American bias with preference given to Middle Eastern employees. Certainly not the desired picture when trying to appeal to an American audience.
The media landscape in America is extremely competitive. Ask MSNBC. To find success, even with a unique voice, is a challenge. But when your marketing -from your name to your HR policies- build and support a notion that you are the opposite of what you claim, you will ultimately fail. Competitors will relish in your misery and make sure your customers know. Partners will feel as though they are part of a lopsided relationship. And customers will choose an alternative.
All of this dooms what was otherwise a well-made product.
Does the Hillary Clinton logo means she is moving to the right and becoming a Republican?
Is it the FedEx logo?
(The creator of the FedEx logo described the Clinton design as “disappointing, amateurish, clumsy and decidedly static.”)
Is it a hospital directional sign?
Is the campaign sponsored by the History Channel?
Wikileaks tried jumping on the bandwagon, but we have no idea what they are talking about. They are probably desperate for attention.
The new Hillary Clinton campaign logo has divided our office, but most have come down on the side of ambivalence. Our CEO was the first to notice it on April 10th. What did he think? What did the team think?
Here is what some of our staff had to say about the logo. Other than Nathan, this was the first time each of them had seen it. They were advised to put aside any personal political opinions and evaluate the logo as a logo alone.
“A little plain for a Presidential campaign, but that certainly speaks to current trends in design. Flat and simplistic will receive criticism. In the end, it could give the campaign more flexibility in how the logo is used.” –Nathan Greenberg, CEO
“I think its a misalignment. Not impressed.” –Cal Haney, Lead Graphic Designer
“Seems simple but effective.” –Ryan Robbins, Marketing Consultant
“Need to think about it.” –Marc Lemus, Marketing Consultant
“I think she tried to hop on the “Presidents get logos” bandwagon and didn’t do a good job of it.” –Amanda Johnson, Digital Coordinator
Arkside is largely underwhelmed. Other experts have weighed in with everything from adoring praise to cringeworthy criticism. But let’s look at other aspects. Generally speaking, what is it that makes a good logo? We have compiled a list of inspiration, ideas, and implied meanings from a collection of design professionals.
Forget this concept. Now. Like most things in design and advertising, there is no such thing as perfect. A logo needs to be good and that means effective. Reliability, affordability, trustworthy, and any other emotion you seek to convey can be achieved in a myriad of ways.
There is no perfect shade of whatever color you’re looking for.
There is no perfect font for the elegant or sporty text you’re looking for.
There is no perfect angle or curve for the shape you’re looking for.
You can waste time trying to find the “perfect” thing that will make your logo perfect…or you can get out and actually sell your product or service.
As always, we recommend you seek the help of a professional who can guide you through the process of logo creation and brand development. There is a science behind the art, psychology, emotion, and creation of a great logo. You can focus on your job and trust a professional to deliver a great logo that will properly represent your business far into the future. If you are interested in a free consultation with with one of our Marketing Consultants and designers, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Is it worth marketing an anniversary? As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.“
We, the awesome Arkside Marketing team, are celebrating our five year anniversary in 2015. Each anniversary of your company’s beginning represents the end of a chapter and the simultaneous start of another. But that is a generalized observation with arguable meaning. Of strategic importance is the marketing value of that anniversary and how it can be used with employees, vendors, investors, customers, and potential customers.
Let’s jump into a couple you may not have considered:
1 year – Your first year in business. You made it!
5 years – Most businesses fail in their first five years. If you’re still around, its time celebrate.
Always commemorate the traditional increments of 10 (10, 20, 30, etc.) and half-10 (15, 25, 35, etc.) anniversaries.
Also consider numbers that are relevant to your particular industry or company:
These milestones give you an opportunity to reconnect with your customers using a completely non-sales touch point. You are suddenly empowered with a new way to stay top-of-mind, offer a unique incentives, and provide an experience unmatched by your competition. (Assuming they aren’t celebrating an anniversary at the same time).
The key is to share your excitement with your customers. Tell your story. Your employees may be your best source of material, especially if they have been around for multiple milestones or even from Day 1. Share trivia and experiences from the company’s history: how did the company begin? What was the last milestone like? How has your city or cities changed over time? Do you offer new products or services?
Here are ways for getting customers excited about an anniversary:
These are just a few ideas to help cultivate ideas for your particular situation. Your customers will enjoy knowing about your success, longevity, and whatever may be in store for them. Most importantly, each of these steps humanize a business. The management, the staff, and the brand as a whole become more “relateable”. In other words: great marketing. Few things can help a company grow like a positive relationship with a customer. They turn into referrals. Those referrals will be around for the next anniversary and so will your business.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Full service ad agency in Southern California expands and deepens experience base with multifaceted sales and management veteran.
Moreno Valley, CA (September 20, 2013) – Arkside Marketing has retained the services of Richard Aguayo to contribute a new dimension to their sales and consultation efforts. Mr. Aguayo has demonstrated an accomplished sales career over the last six years as well as managing a variety of businesses for many years before that.
“Richard was referred to me as someone with a positive attitude and deep desire to help others succeed,” said Nathan Greenberg, Founder of Arkside Marketing. “Whether it is for our clients or the other members of the Arkside team, that is the kind of attitude that I’m looking for.”
He has spent the last four years working in digital and print media, specializing in multi-media integration. He has an exceptional record of great customer service and is committed to solving clients’ marketing challenges. On his own goals and accomplishments, Mr. Aguayo had this to say, “I have a passion for assisting small to large business reach their goals through a consultant approach.”
Arkside Marketing is a full service advertising and marketing agency serving a variety of industries since 2010. Arkside’s foundation is built on the harmony between traditional and digital mediums while providing the highest levels of customer service. Offered services include media buying, campaign strategy, brand development, digital ad campaigns, graphic design, website development, social media and reputation monitoring, and market research.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nathan Greenberg departs his role with Moss Bros. Auto Group to create a new ad agency with a diverse team and focus on specific industries.
Moreno Valley, CA (August 26, 2013) – Regional advertising veteran Nathan Greenberg has recently resigned his position as Director of Marketing for Moss Bros. Auto Group and is launching a full-service advertising agency. The official launch date is September 9, 2013.
“I have sold media, worked at advertising agencies, and run an in-house agency for a large Auto Group. I’m very excited to finally realize my entrepreneurial dream,” said Nathan Greenberg, the founder of Arkside Marketing. With the help of startup investment and an experienced sales and design staff, Greenberg says he is optimistic about the timing of the endeavor. He cites a rebounding economy and businesses having a renewed vigor to improve their market share and become more competitive.
The first position to be filled was Senior Account Manager and that duty has been accepted by Eric Moore, of Lake Elsinore. He brings with him extensive experience in digital advertising, sales leadership, and client consultation. Of his new job, Moore said, “I am excited to work with someone that values clients as much as I do, in regards to customer service and retention. This is a great opportunity with excellent potential.” Personnel for other roles have already been found including website development and graphic design.
Clients have already signed on. “We are honored to have companies such as Precision Instrumentation and the Law Offices of Gary A. Bemis begin a relationship so early in our existence,” Greenberg said. “We appreciate their trust and optimism and the support of our investors.”
Arkside Marketing is a full service advertising and marketing agency based in the Inland Empire and serving a nationwide clientele. Offered services include website and social media development, brand development, market research, public relations, crisis management, online marketing, radio, television, print, and outdoor advertising, promotional products, custom apparel, photography, and video. They can be found online at www.ArksideMarketing.com or on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram.