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Kill Your Television, Part II: Brands'​ Downward Spiral into Consumer Homogeneity

I was vacationing in Moab, Utah recently with my family. We stayed in a brand new Marriott that has spared little expense to create an experience that integrates so well into its surrounding natural environment. Considering its reasonable price point, our room felt upscale, and the expansive pool area, with Moab’s distinct red rock formations serving as backdrop, was the feature Expedia sold us on.

I really do appreciate all the details that Marriott considered to make my stay feel special, yet there is one sore thumb that mutes all other amenities every time I enter a common area: Television. Television blasting the weather channel, divulging the latest political foible or screeching a vapid morning talk show.

Why do so many brands (because it’s not only Marriott) decimate an opportunity to create a unique customer experience by homogenizing it with television?

Why should I engage with a service brand that prides itself (presumably) on the guest experience, only to be shown the same Ford F150 commercial I can view from my living room in another time zone? And I won't even to delve into the sticky situation that is American politics, and the precarious state of national media at the moment. Any brand that would risk revealing which side of the aisle it leans to (intentionally or not) according to the cable news channel playing in its lobby is beyond a mystery.

I wrote a similar post about televisions in public spaces about a year ago. I’m not done dissecting this topic, because the situation has only gotten more acute. In last year’s article I asked, “Why, in this era, when we are never without our smartphones, perfectly curated to scratch every conceivable entertainment itch, are we subjected to somebody else’s idea of ‘entertainment’ in public settings?”

That question has gone unresolved for me.

Are Marriott, and Citibank, and Applebee’s, and the airport lounge, and all the other places where you now can see four flat screens filling up a 10’ X 10’ area, so underconfident in their brand experiences that they offer up television as a somewhat pathetic, and cheap, consolation prize? Doubtful. So why then are the TV’s still turned on full volume, lifting me out of an otherwise curated customer experience that a major brand, like the Marriott, has obviously invested so much to bring me into in the first place?

Share your thoughts on TV’s in public areas. Comment below, or send me an email at aryn@truestoryconsulting.com to continue the conversation (or debate).

Aryn Sperandio