T20 Cup Final – Geo Super Erodes its Brand Equity

Did you watch the T20 Final between Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Geo SUper? Did you hear what the commentators said after the winning runs? I couldn’t.  Why? Because the abominable Geo animated character was dancing to the equally repressible jingle ‘Geo to aisey’.  Either a child was at the controls hitting the animation button gleefully, or a mentally retarded employee had gone berserk. What else could it be?


Mind you, the jingle itself isn’t that bad. It was the context in which it was used that made it excruciatingly irritating.  Even when the Lankans hit a single, the Geo jingle would erupt, drowning any comments from the commentators.


In other circumstances, it would even be likable and motivational. In fact when it was used as a complete song with the video of Pakistan team’s heroics, it was the perfect amalgamation. On its own, it’s a brilliant marketing tactic, composing a song with your brand name as its centerpiece. Equally brilliant was the swiftness with which the video of the song was changed to reflect the Pakistani team’s heroics with the bat and bowl in a particular match immediately after the match. This level of flexibility is unheard of in the Pakistani brandscape.


Unfortunately for Geo Super, that’s the only core competency they have. Their excessive advertising is getting on the nerves of their consumers as well. Why? Because sometimes it encroaches upon the live action, making the consumer miss watching some of the bowls bowled. For instance, in the third last over of the T20 Cup Final, the last ball by Udhana was a no-ball. But for some inexplicable reason, the overzealous GEO controller launched a flurry of ads, making the audience all but miss the last ball.


The erosion process is deceptively slow, and by the time, Geo realizes what has happened, all would have been lost. It’s akin to frog-killing technique. Put a frog into hot water and it will instantly jump out. Put the frog in cold water and boil, and the frog would boil to death without a whimper.


While all this is happening, there’s a remarkable opportunity arising for a niche. A channel that can provide uninterrupted programming, especially a sports channel like the South African Super Sports channels. Most of the cable operators for some inexplicable reason block that particular Super Sports channel which is showing an important Pakistan match. The channel Super Sports 2 was broadcasting the T20 Cup but the cable operators  either set that channel at a frequency which was hard to catch or changed the channel altogether.  Whether they are in cahoots with the Geo management is not known. But it appears most likely since Super Sports 2 is back on the cable immediately after the T20 Cup.


Of course a channel with no or minimal ads would require to generate revenue from other sources like subscription-based viewing. Die-hard fans would certainly opt for this option.


Geo’s strategy has always been to inundate its broadcast with ads, so much so that 10 minutes of programming would be accompanied by 5 minutes of TVCs.


This strategy not only imparts negative brand preference to the brands being shown in the ad break, (provided if anyone is watching the ads at all) but also erodes the brand equity of the channel itself. But when it comes to Pakistan cricket matches, this strategy is criminal as far as the Pakistani consumer is concerned.


And this strategy is not going to change anytime soon, unless there’s a furious backlash from the consumer. Reason being because of the herd mentality, brands are not going to back off from placing their ad on a spot which is ultra prime, and Geo is not going to reduce the frequency or the length of the ads for obvious financial reasons. Everyone is focused on the short-term; no one gives two hoots about the long-term consequences. If all these hot-shots revise their branding basics, they would realize that brand awareness does not equal brand preference.


Does anyone remember Tele-Fun? Does it still exist? I can still remember almost the entire number sung in a jingle- ‘0900-78601’. Did I get it right? Even if it is still hanging on, has it been able to recover even 10% of the fortune it spent on the launch?


So, did I try it? Nope. Was I even tempted to have a go at it? No. But I do remember the jingle and the visuals and what it was all about. How many consumers were there like me? Can’t say. All I know is not a single acquaintance of mine tried it out. Do you know anyone who did?


So, what happened to it? Did it make it? Where is it now?  Was all the investment for raising brand awareness worth it? Did it convert into brand preference?


Any brand aiming to get a foot-hold in the mind of the consumer for the long-term should seriously ask itself these questions.  A brand is not built in a day. But it can go down the drain pretty soon.