Free Markets, Free People

MSNBC – it can’t be the message

Yup, nothing like a new tag line, finally admitting your bias and a marketing campaign to boost your viewership.  Guaranteed, by gosh:

MSNBC, once the also-ran but now the No. 2 cable news channel, has a new tagline that embraces its progressive political identity.

The tagline, “Lean Forward,” will be publicly announced Tuesday, opening a planned two-year advertising campaign intended to raise awareness of the channel among viewers, advertisers and distributors.

The tagline “defines us and defines our competition,” said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, his implication being that the Fox News Channel, which is No. 1 in cable news and a home for conservatives, is leaning backward.

Really?  That’s the best MSNBC could come up with?  Is it sending tingles up Chris Matthew’s leg?

Talk about lame.

Apparently the brainiacs at MSNBC think that saying “lean forward” and advertising it will make all the difference in the world.

Research, you see, told them they were the least known of the three cable networks (I could have told them that for free).  Obviously then, it’s a marketing problem, no?

Ms. [Sharon] Otterman’s [the chief marketing officer for MSNBC] lesson from that research: “All we have to do is tell our story to more people.”

She added in an interview, “It’s not that the look is changing. It’s not that the programming is changing. It’s that we’re going out and telling people about it now.”

Yesirree – because in reality:

“It’s not that the look is changing. It’s not that the programming is changing. It’s that we’re going out and telling people about it now.”

Uh, yeah.  It couldn’t be the message or the programming, could it?  It has to be that they’re just not getting the word out there effectively.

Lord – they sound like the Democrats.



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18 Responses to MSNBC – it can’t be the message

  • “Lean Forward,”
    Sooooo,  MSNBC is now telling its viewers to Bend Over.
    Ok, then.

    •  You beat me to it. ‘Lean forward’ is just another way of saying ‘Bend over’.

  • Lord – they sound like the Democrats.

    There’s a reason for that, my friend…

  • And that will be easily ridiculed along with everything else about that organization.  How about this?  Lame Forward.

  • A more appropriate tag line might be “Keel Over.”

  • Attention All Lemmings! Lean Forward!

  • Now, if they use really tiny characters for “lean forward” so that you have to do so to be able to read them, they’ll have kind of a two level thing going there.

  • I’m not a marketer and I don’t even play one on TV, but this doesn’t look like a smart move to me.
    Fox says “fair and balanced”, which implies that even if they give the right the benefit of the doubt, they’re not actively shilling for them.
    Now, MS-NBC comes right out and says “Hey, we’re for the left. Isn’t that great?” To a committed leftist, it makes perfect sense, since they’re convinced that their delusional view of reality is in fact correct and that any reasonable and smart person agrees with them. But I think it looks different to moderates. They don’t want to think they’re watching propaganda. (They may be easily taken in by propaganda, such as they typical CBS Evening News broadcast or a typical issue of Time Magazine, but they don’t want to think they’re being taken in.)
    So while this may solidify MS-NBC among the left, they may find the loss of mushy moderate viewers more than overcomes those gains.
    As a side issue, I’m not at all happy that Microsoft is now attached to a cable news channel that has officially declared itselft leftist. It’s not that surprising; I know from personally talking to many of them that Microsoft’s people are steeped in that Seattle left-leaning culture. But I still think it has potential blowback among a segment of their customer base. We’ve seen plenty of other cases where a company blundered into leftist support because their own corporate people were clueless, and then beat a hasty retreat when they realized how many pi$$ed off customers they had created.

    • Well, Microsoft has plenty of experience with pissed-off customers!

      • Quite true, but there’s a bigger danger today because customers have more choices. Microsoft’s biggest revenue sources are Windows and Office. It’s possible that we’re approaching the end of the Windows era, but at a minimum Apple is very competitive and Google looks like they’re going to make a run at that space. Online free alternatives to Office are going to erode its market.
        I know many people in the blogosphere have a serious animus against Microsoft, and I think that is overblown. All the big tech companies – Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo – do things that stick in my craw. I don’t see Microsoft as any worse than the others. People talk about Microsoft’s arrogance, but I’ll put the arrogance of Apple or Google up against it any day. As I’ve often said, Microsoft didn’t get to be the biggest software company in the world by making people mad, they got there by selling something people wanted to buy.

        • I’m generally ambivalent about Microsoft.  As you say, lots of companies do things that drive us crazy (and as an IT manager, I get to see it in all its wondrous forms).  I do get a chuckle out of MS being associated with a left-leaning network, since for many on the left the company embodies the evil corporate monopolist at its worst, and Gates personifies the driven capitalist who’d sell his soul (and, having gained a massive personal fortune, would buy it back just to spite his critics).

        • animus against Microsoft
          … but it’s not the same kind of animus that is projected onto oil companies, etc.
          Have you ever heard of an “excess profits tax” that should be applied to the profits of Microsoft (or Intel).

  • (Overheard earlier today in the MSNBC board room)
    “Forward???? Forward!!!!!  DAMMIT!!! Did they say Forward?   WE MEANT LEFT!!!!!!!
    I specifically said LEFT! LEFT!!!!
    YOU IDIOTS!!!!!!!
    CRAP!  Have they gone to paper with any advertising on this yet? “

  • MSNBC is, consciously or not, deciding to copy the British newspaper model.  As I understand it, British newspapers make little or no pretense of “neutrality” or “non-bias”: the are quite clear which side of the political fence they are on.  I suggest that MSNBC has decided to be the explicitly left-wing alternative to Fox in the belief that the lefty audience in America is (A) large and (B) pining for such a “progressive” news / opinion source.  Have not these positions been lefty dogma for years?  That America is a center-left country with a media that, perversely, is dominated by nasty ol’ reichwingers like Rush and Beck and O’Reilly?  Recall also the hype when Air America was rolled out: the libs were CERTAIN that there was a huge, untapped market* for left-wing talk radio, and that Franken, Rhoades, and the other hosts would soon sweep Rush and Hannity right off the air.  They were shocked, of course, when that didn’t happen, but hey! if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

    I admit that I was surprised to find that MSNBC is now #2 (in more ways that one!), but I think that says more about what a disaster CNN has become than how well MSNBC is doing.


    (*)  I use the term “market” loosely, because lefties do not really understand what it means or how it works.

  • I had a boss that talked a lot about “Leaning Forward”.
    His definition was that it was a “white lie to tell the customer about what you will have in the future, but don’t really have now.”
    The purpose was to get some managers at a customer to sign on to working with you on a product .. once signed they have a vested interest to hide any shortcoming in your performance because it makes them look bad too.

  • “Lean forward” is what the doctor tells you just before he gives you that wonderful prostate massage.