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Monday, March 09, 2009

The Day the Muppets Failed to Deliver on the "Brand Promise"...

(Note: I started writing this article in December, then got distracted, then forgot about it. Which is why I am posting a "Christmas" article in March)

A Christmas tradition of mine is to sit down and watch "A Muppet Christmas Carol." (I am man enough to admit it. Get off my case.)

No matter how many times I have seen it, I am always shocked at about the 45 minute mark when there is a song with two humans and ZERO MUPPETS! Why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why oh why would you have a scene in a MUPPET MOVIE with NO MUPPETS????

Regardless of the fact that I, a 35 year old man, am watching it, this is a kids movie. What kid wants to sit through a 5 minute ballad between Michael Caine and some random actress? Anyone? Anyone? 95% of the times I watch the movie, I either forward over it or decide that is a good moment to pause the movie and do something else.

Imagine you were a child. You parents sit you down to watch a delightful movie with cute hilarious animated puppets. You're enjoying the escapades of the big nosed blue Gonzo as Charles Dickens, the adorable Kermit as Bob Crachett, and Statler and Waldorf as the Marleys. Then, out of nowhere, the Muppets disappear and instead of a fun upbeat song with animated puppets, you get a ballad with two human adults. Ding!

Here's an experiment I would ask all you parents to try: sit your child down to watch the Muppet Christmas Carol, and record what happens during this song. I am guessing that is the exact moment your kid picks up a toy, changes the channel, leaves the room, or poops in protest. Ridiculous.

This isn't rocket science. I'm not complaining about a subtle lack of circular construction in storytelling or a slight obfuscation of the protagonist's central question. I'm talking about HAVING "MUPPETS" IN "MUPPET" MOVIE!

Business Lesson: What we are talking about here is the "Brand Promise." Businesses create expectations - like having Muppets in a Muppet movie. When those expectations are met, people are happy - which is why I love most of the Muppet Christmas Carol. When those expectations aren't met, people are unhappy - like when I have to watch that ridiculous song with two humans.

If you are in business, what is your "brand promise?" What expectation do you set for customers and potential customers? And do you fulfill that expectation, every single time?

Personal Lesson: What is your personal "brand promise?" What expectations do you set when people know they will see you? Are they good (fun, happy, caring) or bad (mean, negative, depressing, annoying)? If bad, can you change them to create a more positive expectation? If good, can you think on times when you have failed to deliver on your "brand promise" (i.e. you show up for a friend's birthday celebration and proceed to annoy people by whining about your bad day at work)?

This doesn't mean you can't have a bad day, or complain from time to time, or that you have to be "on" all the time. Just be aware of the effect you are having on those around you, and whether it's the effect you want.

By taking some time now to think about the expectations you are setting, both personally and professionally, and whether you are fulfilling those expectations, you will be a lot more effective in building strong relationships and creating happy environments.

P.S. Has there ever been a more mis-matched couple in the history of TV romance than Kermit and Miss Piggy? Really. Take a minute and think about Kermit and Piggy together, and all that goes with it...*shudder*


Tony Angeles said...

Avish -- I you want to get creeped out even more...Did you know that for the Cratchit family, the original intention was to give Kermit and Piggy half-pig/half-frog children? Let that roll around your head for a bit...

Avish said...

Please tell me you are joking! Thank goodness they came to their senses. That would have made the movie MUCH more of a horror story. I am fine suspending my disbelief to the point of believing that when a pig and frog mate, all their female children are pigs and all their male children are frogs. Now that's wholesome family entertainment!

Becca said...

Broken brand promise or not, it's all worth it to see Beaker give Scrooge the bird!

Avish said...

I agree with that - angry Beaker rocks! The rest of the movie is awesome - probably my favorite Muppet movie, and one of my few "Holiday viewing traditions"

Paula G said...

I think part of the brand promise got diluted when Jim Henson died, no matter what the official line is on it. That being said the muppets can turn me into a 5 year old almost instantly. When things get me in a bad mood I just channel beaker ;-) then I feel better....