Villing & Company

Announcer Gaffes Cause Surface Tension

Imagine the frustration execs at Microsoft must be feeling after their massive 5-year, $400 million deal for the Surface to be the "official tablet of the NFL" resulted in their product incorrectly being referred to as an iPad by television announcers in two separate incidents during opening weekend. You can bet the phone was ringing early the next day at ESPN and FOX as officials from Redmond scurried to set the record straight.

However, I wouldn't feel too sorry for Microsoft. Given the broad scope of their agreement with the NFL, what transpired Week 1 is tantamount to a "three and out" on an offense’s first series of the game. In fact, you could conceivably look at it as a positive. Think of the thousands of consumers like myself who had no idea the Surface was even aligned with the NFL until being made aware of the announcer gaffe through various news reports. Plus, it’s paved the way for a make up call, so to speak, as the two networks will undoubtedly go out of their way to give the Surface a little extra air time during NFL broadcasts in the coming weeks. If they’re smart, and we know they are, Microsoft should also use this as an opportunity to further introduce themselves to all networks and on-air announcers, making sure the broadcasters are well aware of this relationship with the NFL.

But, even so, I’m sure there will be the occasional slip up in the future. It can't be avoided. The iPad earned the distinction of being the de facto brand reference for a tablet by being the first significant player in the field. Much like "Kleenex" or "Band-Aid", once such a brand connection has been established in the minds of the consumer, it is hard to reverse. However, Microsoft need look no further than the smart phone industry to see that, in terms of sales and market share, things can turn around relatively quickly. Indeed, although the iPhone is still the dominant brand, many major competitors are taking a bite out of Apple's market share.

If anything, these honest errors by earnest announcers should only reinforce to Microsoft exactly why they made such a huge commitment to the NFL in the first place. Stemming the tide of a juggernaut like the iPad takes time ... and a ton of exposure and awareness. And with their 5-year arrangement with the NFL only beginning, there’s still a lot of game yet to be played.

Filed Under: branding

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