Expectations: DENIED!

My 11 year-old daughter asked me to “hurry up a little” as we drove home from her 3 on 3 basketball game where, I might add, she totally rocked on defense! But I digress… The reason she wanted to get home was to watch a new show she likes on the ABC Family network. If you have a tween or pre-tween you may know of the show of which I speak…Ruby and the Rockits. Yes it’s another ‘ordinary girl with incredible vocal talent living life where madcap situations arise each day with plenty of chances to sing a song’ premise.  Anyway my daughter liked it and wanted to see it.

I‘ve seen the show once or twice. Hey, who of my generation isn’t curious what David Cassidy is up to these days. In fact, Ruby and the Rockits gives you an update on all the “Cassidy boys” with brother Shaun producing and half-brother Patirck co-starring. (In the ‘old’ days, that would have been a lot of hair and hip-huggers…now, not so much.) Together with my expectations of a network with the name ABC ‘Family’, my impressions of the one episode I had seen, and the fact that the show rating was well within the parameters to avoid being block by the parental controls, I figured it a go for 11 year-old viewing. Um, yeah.

As I sat working on my laptop I was startled to hear a scene in which one of the younger characters voiced the line “ass-kisser” disguised in a sneeze. Huh? Not five minutes later another young character looked at the sneezing character and promptly shot a “bitch” across his bow. What the…? Hey this wasn’t what I had signed on for. Expectation: DENIED!

We’ve all come across these contradictions in brand on plenty of occasions. Remember the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction”. That brief bit of exposed portion of breast was extremely tame by today’s television standards. That it happened in the middle of a sporting event..the most watched sporting event…was what caused such a fuss. Expectation: DENIED!

Right now, in my town, an FM Talk Station that has positioned itself as the conservative talker, with a line up that includes Rush Limbaugh, has decided that it will not be a talk station on the weekends. Instead they will play classic rock instead. Again I say, what the…? If I were a conservative looking for a little solace while perhaps I’m out burying ammo on the weekend and I tuned to my stations and heard the rock band Rush instead of the right-wing Rush, I would be scratching my head and wondering what happened. And no letter from the Program Director posted on the website would make it clear to me. Expectation: DENIED!

These lapses in delivering on expectations by these media brands are sometimes mistakes but sometimes are purely driven by the hope of short term gain. ABC Family to appear to be hip and KTLK to maybe steal a rating point or two from the other rock stations…if only for the weekend.

This is what those that come up with these ideas like to position as “out of the box” thinking. This is more like short-term thinking.

Real brand pros look well past the next week, or the next quarter, or even the next year and remember that without the brand they have nothing that can sustain them for long periods of time. A brand will continue to pay dividends well beyond a tactic or a stunt. So every tactic or stunt must reflect the brand not contradict it.

What’s your brand? What are the expectations of your customer? Are you fulfilling them every single time your customer comes in contact with your brand? They should!

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