March Madness Revisited – SCN Encourager 4/18/13

March Madness Revisited – There’s still hope!

As the NCAA’s “March Madness” hoopla shifted over to baseball and this past weekend’s 2013 Masters Golf Tournament, I heard opportunity knock loudly at the door.

On Saturday there were non-stop media reports on TV and radio about about how a TV viewer phoned the Masters Rules Committee late at night, and pointed out an infraction that eventually cost Tiger Woods a two-stroke penalty. So, I pulled up my DVR recordings … and I’m now reviewing the April 8th National Championship Basketball game between our beloved Michigan Wolverines and the Louisville Cardinals! Why not?

It’s possible…just possible…that the final three minutes of this game will have to be replayed! I think I spotted something on my recording that merits official scrutiny. So far, though, the NCAA isn’t accepting my calls. (Plus, my recording may not be the best. A “friendly reminder” pop-up message from my cable company keeps blocking a clear view of what I’m sure are two Louisville rule violations.) 

These obstacles aside, the Masters isn’t what really got me thinking about “March Madness.”

What drew me back to “March Madness” was a direct reference to it I heard on “The Clark Howard” radio show. Clark’s knowledgeable about everything financial and very consumer savvy, and his show is a good one. It would’ve been nice, however, if it were on the air about 30 years ago, and I wasn’t presently in a budget-busting funk caused by my daughters tossing about the word “wedding” with greater frequency.

I actually didn’t turn on my radio on to listen to Clark Howard, but it was the program playing right before the Tiger game came on the air in our area. I’m glad I caught the last part of his show.

He said that many creative companies tap into the hype of big events in unique ways to generate their own publicity. We school communicators see this all the time with big news stories getting “newsjacked.” (That is, a well-known news story or well-known celebrity is referenced in a smaller, more local story or headline. For example, Manager Jim Leyland refuses to let Page play shortstop. May make offer to Alec Baldwin.)

Clark said that the Consumer’s Union had drawn up its own “March Madness” bracket which paired off  various businesses (round by round) and asked people to vote and determine “the worst customer service company in America.” He thought this was a clever contest.

People could vote via social media all through March and up until April using the Consumer Union’s website.

Clark gave the “championship pairing” a big build-up. He said that thousands of voters had tabbed two companies as the worst companies in America, and he announced the two with drum roll in the background.

The two worst companies were:  Bank of America and EA (uh, who dat?!?).

Clark then said the final vote tally for “the absolute worst company for customer service” was EA (while I was still asking, who dat?!?).

He said it wasn’t even close. EA garnered nearly 80% of the votes, leaving Bank of America to escape with one massive sigh of relief. (But maybe BOA wasn’t happy about finishing a distant #2. I can’t say. Perhaps BOA now has tiny banners hanging in their employee cubicles, “We’ll win it all in 2014!”)

Anyway, the announced result surprised me. How in the world could a bank not win this thing? I mean, winning this kind of contest should be a slam-dunk for a bank. They’ve got it all: lots of fees, disclaimers in small print, shifting rates, FDIC stuff, and Freddie and Fannie.

How could EA win this? (Who dat?!?)

To find out, I put on my school communicator’s hat. (Something you would’ve done sooner, I know.) 

With minimal research, I learned that EA stands for Electronic Arts, a major creator and manufacturer of video games.

Therefore, that final match between Bank of America and EA wasn’t really a customer disservice show-down between two companies, but rather a battle between two distinct demographic groups.

While both demographic groups were passionate and upset about their respective customer service issues, consider the birth dates of those involved:  Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1964-1983) and Generation Y (1983-2004).

With Gen X’rs about evenly split between both camps, the Baby Boomers knew what they didn’t like about banks. The Gen Y’rs, on the other side, knew that they didn’t like getting ripped off in purchasing video game software and having to purchase later updates.

Since the Consumer Union’s “March Madness” voting was conducted totally using social media, it’s easy to see (now) that the Gen Y’rs used their combined web prowess to propel EA to victory. Baby Boomers could not match the Gen Y’rs overall online obsession and intensity.

So, here’s my prediction, based on this stellar analysis: Bank of America won’t win the “worst company in America” contest next year even if they shake up its team. Investing in new coaches and recruiting some unsmiling free agents away from EA won’t help. The numbers simply do not add up for BOA. The vast number of active internet-based voters are still more concerned about gaming than banking...for now.

In a decade or two, I’m going to place my money on – but not in – Bank of America.

Tom Page, SCN
car 03:18:3 0512-1





Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.