Last updated: In the bleak midwinter… there’s nothing on TV

In the bleak midwinter… there’s nothing on TV

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There’s a ludicrous amount of channels and choices on the modern TV, but surprisingly little to watch. Why broadcast if you don’t engage?

Winter is stretching its arms over the Andersons up here in Scotland. It’s not an entirely unpleasant experience. As the nights draw in and the wind howls, we practice our own version of what the Danish call hygge (but pronounce ‘hoogeh’), cooking up feasts, going on long walks, and making side bets on who will win whichever reality show the Illuminati have decided to pacify us with in the run up to Christmas.

But I’ll be honest – and I don’t think I’m alone in this – every time I reach for the TV remote, a little voice inside my head calls me a twit for wasting money on it, and I find myself longing for the Christmas ad season to return.

When entertainment isn’t entertaining

And the voice is getting louder. I subscribe to Sky TV, which I guess is a bit like Verizon or Comcast in the US. It’s a good eighty quid a month (USD$120) for the package I’ve got at home and it doesn’t end there. If we want to watch premium channels in another room it’s another tenner – and did I mention that for some reason we still have to sit through endless inane adverts?

What’s interesting is that there’s a growing strata of modern consumer who might be quite happy to be spoon fed rubbish, but who will spit and splutter at the first hint of propaganda – witness the growing outrage of complaint at the way Fox handles news, for example. In a sense I guess they want the right to choose their own rubbish.

Informed or not, consumers are presented with so much choice these days it’s not just bewildering, it’s vulgar. It’s like the difference between walking to the local delicatessen and wandering around Walmart in a stupor. A triumph of blind consumption in the old Roman model of panem et circenses. Standards plummet as the sheer volume of crap available at a lazy click of the remote rise.

So as a conscious marketeer, keen to engage with this go-getting modern consumer, but knowing folks aren’t ready to head back into stores quite yet, what are your options?

Well, the first, most obvious one is to simply go with the crowd and take on the mantle of voice of the people. If it’s tripe they want, then tripe they shall have, right? I’m not so sure. From where I’m standing, it’s too dangerous. If you go too readily with the flow, leaping for the wheels of the same bandwagon as your peers, you either get trampled or you end up wasting energy fighting for your place.

Blanketing people in constant options and dilutions of imitations of ideas that have already had their best days doesn’t help anyone.

If you want to see that in action, you only need look at all the channels you skip or roll your eyes at. Far better instead to make a virtue of doing one thing uniquely well. To be a modern HBO with great storytelling – or like MTV in its golden age and speak direct to the youth. Be simple, elegant, and effective in your delivery. Your natural, authentic, real style, and language will end up being the one that speaks most effectively to your customers.

Customer engagement for the modern customer.
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