Setanta was always going to be a difficult launch for a number of reasons.
They were coming into a market that was already dominated by one really major player with massive financial muscle. Sky.
And they really failed to differentiate themselves. They presented more as a Sky wannabe than as a unique brand in its own right. Their initial advertising was more to do with people getting the name wrong than their unique content.
Was it Sultana, Santana or just Des Lynam being paid to add some much loved but misguided British celebrity? For me, it was a combination of all of them. A big boobed model chucking some pies down on a chuck wagon counter is not differentiation, its stupid, silly sexploitation that speaks down to its potential customers.
But worst of all, we were expected to pay extra for the privilege of being a customer. As Des says ‘Under a tenner a month and no annual contract – with games that Sky doesn’t have’.
By comparing themselves to Sky, they were introducing doubt into people’s mind straight away. Were they Sky? Were they as good as Sky? And what games or sports events do they actually have that people wanted to watch?
For me as an Oxford United fan, it was great seeing them all the time on Setanta in the mightily overblown Blue Square Premier. But I only got it as part of my Virgin Media package and I’m not sure I would have paid extra for it – even for the sheer joy of watching Oxford lose almost every time they played in front of the Sultana cameras.
So what makes a brand succeed?
It is clear in what it stands for – Setanta was not.
It is differentiated in the market – Setanta was not.
It is of exceptional quality – Setanta was not. (or they failed to sell this aspect by their marketing)
People can say the name without embarrassment – Cleary Setanta did not fall into this category – they had to advertise to people as to how to pronounce the name rather than concentrate on the content.
So, like ITV digital, British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) – even with their squarial, the Betamax Video format, HD DVD and for me the whole concept of Freesat all failed or will fail because they have got one or more elements of a great brand wrong.
In my mind Setanta was always going to fail, it was just a matter of time. Lets see what ESPN do with the UK market?
And perhaps more importantly, lets see how the FA squirm out of the mess they’ve created by chasing the cash, rather than concentrating on the quality.