Smokescreens and Halfpipes

21 Feb

By Tim Mckane

The Jones won a Silver Medal in Sochi last Sunday. The first ever British medal on snow. In the snowboard slopestyle. Very brave, very exciting and very cool skiing.

But are we happy – well I was – but a lot of people were put off by the tone and language of the commentators. Ed Leigh and former boarding champ Tim Warwood were joined by Aimee Fuller (from Holywood Co Down – where Navajo is based), and they gave it up, big style, whooping and hollering.)

snow boarder

Now here is the question? The other media (press and others) have latched on to the number of complaints (300 or so) that the BBC received, because these three got caught up in the moment, and some described it as puerile and uninformative.

I loved it. I really felt that we were being given a look inside the culture and excitement of snowboarding as well as watching these young people fling themselves down the slopes doing 520s and other incomprehensible things. Did I need a technical understanding of what they were doing ( I know that grabbing your board – good- not grabbing – bad), for the couple of hours every four years that I watch boarding? Or should the commentary be for those that are watching because they already know what is happening, go boarding themselves, are young, can automatically “get” the shorthand language that is being used?

The complainants wanted the BBC to use the same respectful tone that applies to all their other sports coverage. Be unbiased – why? It is the British Broadcasting Corporation! Be informative (that means 40+ middle class to my reading). Dull (watch the battles between presenters of football on RTE in comparison to Match of the Day – it is engaging and provocative – like football should be). But what they got was a commentary turned up to 11. Just like the attitude of snowboarders. They work hard and play hard. They take risks, try new things, and appear to get on with each other.

But what has this to do with digital marketing. Who was the target audience for the broadcast? Those that are browsing the Winter Olympics – or those who are active in winter sports and particularly boarding? If we were developing a communications strategy which language would we use to present the sport to existing and potential customers?  What keywords would each groups search for, and which ones would lead to goal conversion. Would we be using e-mail or Snapchat and Twitter? Proper spelling or text-speak?

The problem with marketing in Northern Ireland is that too many people want it to revert back to the old ways. They are not ready for, or accepting of the changes that are going on around them. The new language of communication is not for them, but their target audience is already long gone down that road.

Complaining that things should be done the way they always are will result in the gap between you and your customers growing, not shrinking. And now I am off to a half-pipe to do a 720…
photo credit: Fotografik33 via photopin cc


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