Article

Konrad Dobschuetz
Konrad Dobschuetz 3 June 2016

Didn’t Like the New Top Gear?

Here’s why it has had a rough ride so far - from a marketeers perspective. We are looking at the launch of new Top Gear on BBC2 from the perspective of a NPI (New Product Introduction) and, naturally, common sense.

On Sunday 29th of May (pun!) new Top Gear started in the UK (and in the US on the 31st). Viewing figures are estimated at 4.4m at its peak on Sunday. Beating all TV programs on air that day in that time-slot by a mile. Furthermore to date we are looking at over 1.2m views on iPlayer. The studio audience was ecstatic - so was Chris Evans - and some of the content was actually interesting, factually. 

So all in all, looking at the pure facts, this show and product to market introduction was a success. Somewhat under the super popular old Top Gear viewing figures with Jeremy Clarkson and the rest but still okay no? Well, no. So what the heck went wrong to be in this position of utter dismay on Social Media and in the press now? Let's forget about Chris and the who to like or not for a second. Taking a first glance, here are 4 obvious reasons why this was doomed to fail from the start - from a marketeers’ common sense perspective. 

1. Time is sometimes a commodity we should cherish more! “Get the new thing out quick!” must have been the conversation amongst the BBC planners. They tried to re-introduce Top Gear quickly to capitalise from its former glory, especially in the US. However, they picked the same name for a product that tastes sort of similar but is different in its aftertaste and has a new packaging. Same music, same concept, same style. To put it in layman's terms, if you bring your new revamped chocolate ice cream to market which now has a slight hint of caramel flavour to it, don’t just call it ”new chocolate ice creme”. Instead use a new name or people will inevitably compare it with the previous version. And that is exactly what happened with Top Gear. 

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2. Concentrate on your home market! Following from the above point, the attempt to please UK and US viewers alike drastically failed. The programs’ core of viewers which has carried the show over the years remains in the UK, yet the first piece was located in the US.  This must have pleased Richard Hammond though! The introduction of Matt LeBlanc is an obvious attempt to get into the US market. Also, the show lacked the wittiness of english humour that even a Kraut living in the UK like myself amuses once in while between working on the potato fields and planning to rule the world. 

3. Listen to your customers (i.e.TV Licence payers). Comments on Social Media were clear from the outset. When the marketing campaign started anbig-stig.jpgd people went on commenting and writing letters, the BBC didn’t listen. One main concern for example was the re-use of ‘The Stig’ and his (or hers?) over-presence in the advertising and experiential marketing. A notion of “Thanks but we’ve seen it all before” had established quickly even before the first trailer went on air. This gave the first episode a bad outlook from the get-go, producing prejudice and disbelief in the quality of the new show. 

 

4. Do your market research! Again, time is a factor here. The BBC bosses wanted  to push this out too quickly forgetting that this is not just any ‘old’ new program they can launch. There are sensitivities around it and also, going back to my previous point, they forgot the power of the viewers and dual screening. Ewans was ripped to pieces after 3 minutes, the quickest knock-out in TV history I should say. If the BBC had in mind to attract a new audience, they should have considered this in their ads and messaging - but again, I very much doubt that this was their intent.

 

...and lastly, I cannot let Chris Evans off the hook (sorry CE!)!  In the aftermath, he tried to defend himself by actually insulting the very audience he is after and has yet to convince. Men between 29 and 49 who are Social Media savvy and can carry a brand. That would be as if Volkswagen accuses the drivers of misusing their cars in the midsts of the manipulation scandal - just bonkers. It does tell us something that Jeremy Clarkson got more mentions on Twitter during the first airing of the show than Chris Evans. Now, it remains to be seen how the show develops and what if anything can be done to salvage this situation.  All I wish for is the best for the production staff as they are the ones suffering from the incompetence in the higher ranks should the show get the ax - and I look forward to The Grand Tour on a known streaming service. 

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