Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: TOTP's Final Top 10 Is Lesson to Us All

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: TOTP's Final Top 10 Is Lesson to Us All

Article excerpt

As the one and only Noel Edmonds said, when bemoaning the demise of Top of the Pops (TOTP), 'It is a tragedy when a broadcaster does not understand such a powerful brand'. The show ended its 42-year run on Sunday.

It is true that TOTP was a brand of sorts. Even in its death throes, the programme maintained almost unrivalled levels of brand heritage and awareness. The real legacy of TOTP, however, is the key branding lessons that it offers marketers on what builds and breaks brands. Here then, is this week's countdown.

10. Strong brands manage to balance precariously, but profitably, between heritage and contemporariness. When TOTP began to lose its focus on the commonplace, its massive heritage swamped the brand and turned it into a cliched media dinosaur.

9. A good positioning statement is virtually eternal. In 1964, TOTP told kids what the bestselling records of the week had been. Today's youth have exactly the same cultural need to keep up with music sales on a national basis. It is true that TOTP lost touch with its market, but the real tragedy is that it also lost touch with its original, and still relevant, positioning. Do you know what the most downloaded song in the UK was this week? Me neither.

8. Brands must constantly change to remain consistent. While TOTP's positioning was still vital, the manner in which that positioning was executed should have changed. It should have constantly revisited and revitalised its positioning with consistently improved metrics, and then become the first reliable chart of downloaded music.

7. Brand naming is always more important later, rather than sooner. Yes, Top of the Pops was a swinging name in 1964, but if only it had consulted a brand-consulting company before rushing into things. Clearly, a name such as Musica or Poporato would have better served the brand over the long haul.

6. Never confuse habit with loyalty. In a disastrous move, the BBC shifted TOTP from Thursday to Friday evenings. This confused repeat viewers, disrupted their habitual viewing and put TOTP up against arch rival Coronation Street. Those who have studied the writings of the great Andrew Ehrenberg could have predicted the disastrous impact on ratings.

5. Avoid competitor orientation. In 2003, with audiences dwindling, the BBC mistakenly ignored Ehrenberg's views on positioning and heritage, focusing instead on copying its competitors. …

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