Sunday night America tuned in to watch what promised to be shocking, entertaining and potentially terrifying television viewing when 27-year-old daredevil Paul Rosolie pledged to be swallowed by a giant anaconda.
The previews for “Eaten Alive
” ignited a fierce debate from animal activists, who collected tens of thousands of signatures calling on Discovery Channel not to air the show. Brand managers fought back, positing that the aim was to raise awareness about deforestation and the delicate ecosystems in South America.
Despite vocal protects, many more braced themselves—and their DVRs—to watch what they were made to believe would be one of the most startling visuals they had ever seen.
When the show itself aired, viewers spent nearly the entire show watching Rosolie try to find the large reptile, only to fail to be eaten when the snake started to wrap itself around him and safety became a concern.
Why they thought a suit that looked like a motorcyclist’s could protect a man from a 200-foot anaconda chokehold is beyond many, but audiences were still disappointed by the show’s failure to deliver the content that was promised.
There’s a fine line between building up suspense and interest with sensational teasers, and what you actually deliver.
Did Discovery Channel’s marketing spike viewership? Absolutely. But did they lose trust with their audience because they didn’t deliver on their promise? You bet they did.
Brand managers are going to have to work twice as hard the next time they promote a show to prove viewers are going to get what they are promised.
Despite what happened, Discovery Channel succeeded in creating discourse and its brand name has been elevated in the process. Here are some of the snarkiest tweets about the show:
Though the stunt got people talking, it also was seen as slimy.
Consider this a lesson learned: Under promise and over deliver. Do anything else, and you might find yourself in the jaws of predatory trouble.
[RELATED: Learn the secrets to becoming a great brand journalist in this free white paper.]
Allison Steinberg is a journalist and the communications director for Empire State Pride Agenda.