Foxtel's Game of Thrones fail offers branding lesson for SMEs

Foxtel's Game of Thrones fail offers branding lesson for SMEs

A brand failing to deliver on its promise is again in the headlines following Foxtel’s epic Game of Thrones stuff-up.

The launch of the seventh season of HBO’s most anticipated TV show, Game of Thrones, and its subsequent crash on Monday evening saw thousands of disappointed fans take to social media to express their disappointment.

The issue of illegal downloads in Australia has become an even hotter debate recently, with regulators pushing for firmer action. Foxtel’s new streaming service, Foxtel Now, looked to be the perfect answer.

After securing exclusive HBO rights in Australia, droves of fans signed up for a free two-week trial. However, those same fans were left fuming after the pay TV giant’s latest gaffe.

In a long line of companies not delivering on brand values, Foxtel joins the likes of United Airlines, PwC (the Oscars fail) and of course IBM for its technological glitches on Census night.

IAG Chief Marketing Officer Brent Smart says that because it was a free-trial offer, the damage is even worse from a marketing perspective.

“Brands are essentially promises made and kept,” he says. “And in this social media age you better keep them, because there's nowhere to hide when you don’t. Especially if you’ve shouted about it and made a lot of noise.

“That’s the problem for Foxtel. They built all their marketing around Game of Thrones. It was everywhere. Then on the one night they needed their streaming to stream, it didn’t.”

Smart says that while demand for the show was unprecedented, Foxtel should have prepared for this possibility in the planning stages.

“This is why Australian businesses can't underestimate the impact of Amazon’s imminent launch here. Having lived in the US for the past seven years, I can attest to how consistently brilliant the Amazon experience is. They always deliver on their promises."

CGU National Brand and Marketing Manager, Kate Wellard, says the importance of delivering on your brand promise isn’t just a key success factor for big business – small businesses should also take note.

“Unfortunately, many small businesses underestimate the importance of branding and the need to align customer experience. Your small business brand is important because it represents a promise to your customers.”

Kate says the brand defines what customers believe about you based on everything they’ve ever experienced, seen or heard ­– whether good or bad, true or false. 

“If you’re ‘Jim’s fast printing’ and the process is incredibly slow, you’ve just broken a customer brand promise and just like the Foxtel GOT faux pas, news will travel fast."

“At CGU, we pride ourselves on being there for our customers during tough times. We differentiate ourselves from our competitors by ensuring we ‘see it through’ to the end to ensure customers are satisfied with their overall experience,” she adds.