Worst Listeners of the Year (Or Maybe Ever!)
Posted by Allison Fine on April 15, 2009
The worst listener of the year, no actually make that the decade so far? Easy, really it’s a no-brainer, it’s Tropicana. You probably saw the expensive results of their closing their ears if you looked in your supermarket for OJ at the beginning of the year and thought there was a new, cheap, generic brand. Here is a mind boggling story of corporate incompetence that I hope resonants with activsts who could be doing a better job of listening (meaning everyone!):
- Tropicana decided last year that their old look wasn’t jazzy enough, wants to boost sales, and does what big companies do; reflexively hired expensive outsiders to create a new look. [Note: if you want to see an ad guy talk gobbldygook for 3 minutes in a way that begs for a bit on The Office, watch Peter Arnell bumble his way through a nonsensical presentation of this rebranding effort.]
- Launches new brand image on January 1, 2009.
- Tropicana sales plummeted 20% between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22. As one blog post noted, “A brand that’s been cultivated for 30-plus years loses a fifth of its customers in fewer than 60 days! Not only did Tropicana lose ground but its competitors gained.”
- Tropicana pulls the plug on the re-branding after tens of millions of dollars on the effort.
How is it possible to fail so spectacularly? By not listening. I asked an ad agency friend of mine why didn’t they talk to customers about this lifeless, generic, tepid new look? And that’s what makes the story so much worse; she said they did!
I would feel better if the MBAs just decided that they liked what they saw from the hired guns and went with their guts – a Bushian decider moment. What makes this episode the most egregious case I’ve heard about in years, is that they DID ask people and then actively chose not to listen. That takes a lot of gumption. Passive non listening – the kind of nodding your husband does when you’re telling him about the sale you just found at the mall is one thing – looking at the focus group data where customers HATED the rebranding (and rightly so) and then choosing to ignore them is an amazing act of active nonlistening.
I hope these guys were fired, ’cause there are a lot of competent people looking for work nowadays. But, I’m also wondering which activist groups are actually listening and which are either passive or active not listening? Are you nodding when your volunteers are talking and hoping they’ll stop soon so you can get back to work? Or are you really listening and engaging them in a conversation? Are you using all of your social media tools like Technorati and Google alerts and Twitter to listen to what folks have to say about your and your cause? Whatever you’re doing, redouble it, because if you’re not listening, they’re going to stop talking and working with you if they haven’t already.
This entry was posted on April 15, 2009 at 7:55 am and is filed under Social Media. Tagged: branding, Google alerts, Technorati, Tropicana. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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