[OPINION] Never before has freedom of the press been so demonstrably relevant as it is in South Africa right now with the tsunami of disclosures laid bare by the Gupta e-mails.
Latest in the firing line is MultiChoice.
To be frank, I am still trying to understand what it is all about. And all MultiChoice has said is: “We have done nothing illegal.”
This sort of instant denial seems to be the trend among corporations accused of being tainted by the Guptas. KPMG did it and so did all the others.
Deny, deny, deny and hope it all goes away.
Well it hasn’t gone away for KPMG, McKinsey, SAP and all the others.
Whether MultiChoice has done anything illegal or not is beside the point because the powerful force at play here is perception. And anyone with an IQ above that of a brain-dead gerbil will know that perception often far outweighs reality.
Perceptions damage brands. Perceptions create problems that cost a lot of money to fix. Perceptions can be hugely distracting to corporate management.
As it is, MultiChoice is not the most popular brand in South Africa. It has a lot of haters. All of whom are probably motivated by perception and not reality.
Gnashing of teeth if sports channels discontinued
Particularly those MultiChoice haters who love their sport.
As I have pointed out time and again, the subscription price one pays for the DStv Premium service is minimal compared to actually having to watch those sports from a seat in the stadium.
If DStv suddenly decided to drop its dozen or so dedicated sports channels, there would be wailing and gnashing of teeth like this country has never experienced.
And SABC could not possibly provide so much sport. On any given night DStv has at least six or seven channels devoted to football alone. Nobody can match that.
And even those haters who are not sport’s aficionados would scream blue murder if DStv just shut down overnight.
The perception of the consumer is that DStv is grossly expensive and just survives on repeats all the time. The reality is that DStv is about the cheapest form of entertainment any family can enjoy.
Don’t ignore consumers
But, MultiChoice doesn’t seem to even try to make that point. Just as they don’t seem to want to expand on why they have done nothing illegal with regard to the Guptas.
I like MuitiChoice. I like the fact that they have become one of the world’s great television companies. I like the fact that they have a global footprint. It’s just a pity that arrogance has crept into their relationship with their consumers. They seem to bank on the idea that no matter how many people complain about costs and repeats; no matter how much the media might harp on about their Gupta links, subscriber numbers will continue to climb.
The thing is, it is never a good idea to ignore consumers. Because being transparent and honest and taking the trouble to quash perceptions by demonstrating reality, will increase revenue and profits.
Transparency is not about having to fall upon swords or humiliate oneself, it is about genuinely great marketing.
And great marketing, as even that brain-dead gerbil will know, has nothing to do with what you want to say but what your customer wants to hear.