• Direct Fail

  • September 20, 2010

    by guy cimbalo

    Ah, the majesty of sport! What can compare to that glorious moment when the ball (any ball really — be it base, foot, basket, or bowling) is thrown… dangles in the air but for a second… and then the god damn picture cuts out.

    It happened last night in a crowded sports bar in Brooklyn, just as Jets QB Mark Sanchez lobbed one into the end zone. The reaction was pretty much what you'd expect.

    Drunken sports fans don't deal with disappointment well, but when there's no team to blame, upper management to curse, or bad luck to bemoan, when there's nothing but technology at fault — relief is not to be found.

    it was at that very moment — as paroxysms of rage exploded from every corner of the bar, as angry fans searched for anyone, anything to feel the force of their wrath — that DirecTV proudly displayed its logo on screen. And so in those long ten minutes, the Directv brand inspired an animosity that would put the loudest party member in Oceania to shame.

    That's one hell of an advertisement for your services.


    Why is it that these very moments of technical malfeasance are considered the perfect opportunity for cable and satellite companies to put up an enormous billboard for their failure as a organization?

    consider the Palm Treos of a few years back — they were notorious for their proclivity for crashing, so much so that owners sued Palm in 2005 seeking to bar sales of the device. And now watch video of a Treo 700p reset loop, as the logo for Access, the company that built the faulty OS, appears on screen over, and over, and over again.

    The Palm forums return over 1000 results for people complaining about the "Access Powered" screen of death. Presumably that's one way to build brand awareness.

    When things go pear-shaped on an Apple product, they don't make much of an effort to remind you that it's an Apple-branded computer failing you. Recall that terrifying moment in OS7 and earlier when a lit bomb appeared in an error message? Miraculously they didn't feel the need to hit you with a brand message at the very moment that brand failed you. And the fabled "beach ball of death" also maintains a certain anonymity.


    here's a tip: if you manage a brand — be it DirecTV, access, or the war on terror — avoid the temptation to raise brand awareness every chance you get, because just as in sports, you never really know what's going to happen. (the jets managed to win that game, thank god.)