How to Damage a Hard-Won Reputation with Your Customers in 2 Minutes
OK, so this is not strictly related to executive job search or to executive resume writing. But what happened on national TV on August 24 to an ardent fan of Carolina Panthers’ football contains a lesson for anyone whose customers are the lifeblood of their business (and for whom are they not?).
As today’s Charlotte Observer reports, Fox Sports played a really MEAN trick on one of the Panthers’ long-time, most loyal fans, and stirred up the ire of countless viewers. “Catman” (Greg Good) sits in a front-row end zone seat at every Panthers home game wearing an electric blue wig and a black-and-blue cape.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the Panthers-Miami Dolphins exhibition game, the announcer Daryl Johnston said: “Now all you fans out there, you might be thinking, well, the starting units are out, we might change the channel. … We’re going to do something special to try and keep you here tonight. We’re giving a car away tonight.” He continued with the teasers until sideline reporter Tony Siragusa walked up and introduced Good, asked him to scream for the Panthers and then said: “The car is coming in right now. Here it comes. Beautiful. It’s white. It’s a Porsche.” Then Siragusa handed a small toy car to Good.
Good naturally assumed that the toy car was a symbol of the real car he had won.
Wrong. It was all a joke, and a cruel one at that. Fox Sports had tried to trick viewers into staying tuned with its fake “car giveaway.”
Fox Sports only comment has been that “We would welcome an opportunity to speak to him and offer an apology for any misunderstanding.” Who WOULDN’T have misunderstood?
The joke was particularly egregious due to the fact that Good needed a new car badly. He is a college graduate with three children who works with troubled kids for a mental health agency. He drives a 1991 Chevrolet Astro van with 130,000 miles on it.
In the mere span of a few minutes Fox Sports managed to leave a sour taste in the mouths of millions of viewers, erasing the benefits of millions of promotion and advertising dollars and many hours of good sports broadcasting. Something to think about, isn’t it?