Offensive or not, ESPN doesn’t understand the brand of Tony Kornheiser
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
24 January 2010
Comment wrong, but suspension is too long
Right up front, I’ll tell you that I’m a fan of Tony Kornheiser, the former Washington Post columnist and current ESPN star of “Pardon The Interruption.” I even listen to podcasts of his radio show, broadcast from Washington D.C. I think he’s entertaining, funny and has a wide scope of interests, unlike most in sports broadcasting.
“He did apologize, but he was in essentially apologizing for living up (or down, depending on your opinion) to his brand promise.”
OK, one more admission: ESPN, by suspending Kornheiser for two weeks, are the ones at fault here – for not understanding the brand of PTI. The network, essentially, is saying it cannot fulfill a brand promise it has so gleefully promoted.
If you’ve seen the show – or, better yet, listened to his radio show, which is infinitely more interesting – you know that expressing controversial and snarky opinion is exactly what the brand of PTI and Tony Kornhesier promises. In effect, Kornheiser is suspended for doing what he was hired to do.
The first thought I had after the announcement of the suspension was that it would force Tony to tone down his act – that is, he wouldn’t be living up to his brand promise anymore. He did apologize, but he was in essentially apologizing for living up (or down, depending on your opinion) to his brand promise.
It reminded me of something Howard Stern said after Don Imus was fired over his offensive comments concerning the Rutgers women’s basketball team. He said Imus should not have apologized, because Imus’ brand was to provoke. (And, in case you don’t know, there are few more bitter enemies than Stern and Imus.) Stern, love him or hate him, understands his brand promise.
Apparently, ESPN does not.
For marketers, it’s also a reminder to be certain about your brand promise in the first place. That’s not to say you must tip your hat to political correctness. In fact, the best brands say who they are for and who they are not for.
But make sure you can fulfill it, and support it. Backing away from it means the brand promise becomes less believable and important. And then you really are saying something stupid.
Soderbergh Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 21 August 2017 Soderbergh, Logan Lucky and the changing movie If you’re a film director of a certain reputation, take heart in the business decisions made by Steven Soderbergh and his newest release, Logan Lucky. The...
Cleverness in advertising stinks: Prevagen Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 17 August 2017 Prevagen gets stupid Prevagen. The perfect example of brand masturbation. Brands try to speak directly to the emotions of prospective customers. Anything that gets in the way...
Amazon Instant Pickup Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 16 August 2017 Is Amazon Instant Pickup just an automat? Amazon is doubling down on its push into traditional brick and mortar with its new Amazon Instant Pickup service for Prime and Student Prime members. The...