Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Competition at its best

Hockey fan or not, you have to love this story.

This week, CBC failed in its negotiations to maintain rights to the theme song for its #1 TV program - Hockey Night in Canada. The theme song has been an integral part of Canadiana for more than 40 years. Most Canadians could belt out the tune on command, and it has even become an overly popular ring tone for hockey fans across the country.

Now, tempting as it is, I won't use this space to talk about CBC's failure to retain something so critical for their brand. Instead, I am more intrigued - or should I say impressed - by CTV's response. They bought the rights right out from under them! They will use the song for their hockey broadcasts on TSN (which they own). As deft a competitive move as I have seen in recent memory.

Now, readers of my blog will cry hypocricy and remind me that in a previous post, I condemned Kelsey's for using the Cheer's theme song for their new campaign. But wait - this is different. CTV has recognized the importance of the song to viewers, and is wooing them with it. They didn't try to recapture old, expired magic by reviving a popular theme from somewhere else (as Kelsey's did), they just stepped up to the plate when their competitor couldn't. Kelsey's decision to use the Cheer's theme reeked of laziness. This move by CTV is competitive spirit at its best.

Imagine for a moment that, say, The Keg offered a menu item so vital to the Canadian fabric that Canadians ate there just for that reason, and ate there almost every time they ate out because it was that important to them (this dish would likely resemble a donut sandwich with coffee sauce and a side of Molson Canadian). Now let's imagine that someone had sold the recipe to them, and the usage rights had expired. If Kelsey's swooped in and grabbed the recipe when The Keg decided it wasn't worth keeping (ignoring the needs of their customer base), that would be impressive. Just like CTV's move.

Similarly, imagine that CBC dropped the logo for the show - not really that important to viewers. If CTV had picked that up, that would just seem like laziness.

See the difference?

The theme song WAS the show. It was Canada. Forget that it's a theme song, or a logo, or a menu item. Whatever IT is, if it's that iconic, protect it. And if it's available, steal it! Other examples would include Nike's Jordan silhouette, the golden arches (sadly), and the iPod.

Nice move CTV.

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