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Sci Fi or SyFy? Never underestimate the moron factor March 18, 2009

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Financial Crisis, Uncategorized.
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I have a favorite saying: Never underestimate the moron factor. For criminals, Atlanta drivers, and politicians, this is a necessary piece of advice. You hope it doesn’t apply to business, especially your own company, but sometimes it does.

The latest “Coke 2” debacle centers on Sci-Fi Channel announcing it is changing its name to SyFy. Yes, it is as dumb as it looks…and it took some high-priced help to bring it to market. Here’s Ad Age author Ken Wheaton’s take on it:

“Normally, I don’t put much stock in Web 2.0 outcry and the screams of the Twitterati. As much as I’ve become a Twitter convert, I know that it’s little more than an echo chamber. (If an alien were to base his impression of Earth on Twitter chatter, he’d walk away thinking SXSW was the pinnacle of human achievement rather than Woodstock for geeks.)

But here’s the thing about Sci-Fi Channel: I’d bet that a fairly substantial portion of its audience overlaps with the Web 2.0 crowd. This isn’t a case of “Motrin Moms” calling for the heads of J&J execs while 99.9% of Motrin users go about their lives blissfully unaware that this supposed scandal ever happened. Sci-Fi fans are likely a little geeky. And while the network wants to broaden its base, it should probably remember to dance with what brung you. As it is, you’ve got sci-fi blogs such as io9 running with the headline “Sci-Fi Channel Changes Its Name To A Typo” and asking, “Will this tweak really expand the possibilities of a channel that already runs a schedule full of whatever they loosely call science fiction?”

The channel should have been spending the week celebrating the series finale of “Battlestar Galactica,” one of the best shows to hit TV in the last 20 years. Instead, it’s spending the week being mocked. The good news is that this rebranding was simply an announcement made at an upfront presentation and nothing consumer-facing is set to roll out until July.

So my question to you is: Will the network pull the plug? And if so, when?”

Great question, Ken! We can hope that this upfront trial balloon bursts or dies for lack of a second. Then, there will be no need to pull the plug on it.

It’s an example of a business idea gone bad (or not good in the first place). It isn’t a back shop decision, like outsourcing to India, which may never be known widely by the public until much later. This is a very public decision, given to advertising, marketing and PR types who couldn’t keep a secret to save themselves much less another company’s goofy executives. Frankly, I’m sure execs at Sci-Fi were hoping for the publicity. Maybe they didn’t bargain for all the negativity but, as I say, never underestimate the moron factor.

The geeks are correct, and execs should listen: The channel could use a little tweaking on the programming side to make it more Sci Fi so we don’t have to endure SyFy.

Now I guess you’re going to tell me the execs at AIG got bonuses. What? Hey!

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