By J. Mikel, Contributor, Advertising Week
It’s been said that timing is everything. Nowhere is this truer than in today’s rapid-fire, social media-fueled world, where the wrong move at the wrong time can lead to disaster, or worse. The past couple of days have seen clear examples of this — both a success and a failure, and both from much-loved brands.
The Case of the Disappearing Baseball
As part of Apple’s “Peek Performance” livestream this week, the tech juggernaut announced a slew of new programming for their Apple TV+ SVOD service. Possibly the most interesting — and at the same time, most confusing — offering is “Friday Night Baseball,” a deal struck between Apple and Major League Baseball that will see two MLB games streamed exclusively on the Apple TV+ platform every Friday evening.
While this is a clear boon for baseball-loving Apple TV+ subscribers and a great way for MLB to get their name in the headlines for a few days, one can’t help but wonder if the timing of this announcement could have been better, given that MLB players are facing a lockout due to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
While there’s hope that an agreement can be made without serious disruption to the 2022 season, this announcement felt more than a little tasteless to baseball fans, who wasted no time taking to social media to express themselves.
Apple TV+ announced a new deal with MLB for Friday night doubleheaders this season. Games will be exclusive to Apple.
Meaning it'll cost you to watch.
And the lockout continues.
Tune in tomorrow to see what else they do to make it harder to be a baseball fan.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) March 8, 2022
Additionally, as much of the rest of Apple’s live event was centered around gadget announcements like the iPhone SE, a new iPad Air, and Mac Studio, it left many scratching their heads as to why Apple bothered to mention this new deal with MLB during the event at all, with many complaining that it did little more than rub salt into their already raw MLB fandom wounds.
No War — Virtual or Otherwise
On the other end of the spectrum, this week also saw the second delay of Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, a long-awaited video game remaster from Nintendo. The game was delayed once already for several months — from December 2021 to April 2022 — due to COVID workforce complications and has now been delayed a second time due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Pre-orders made directly with Nintendo for Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp have been refunded and the company issued a tweet to inform their fans to “stay tuned for updates on a new release date.”
In light of recent world events, we have made the decision to delay Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, which was originally scheduled to release on Nintendo Switch on 08/04. Please stay tuned for updates on a new release date.
— Nintendo of Europe (@NintendoEurope) March 9, 2022
By and large, Nintendo fans have been very receptive to the delay and appreciate Nintendo’s apparent discomfort with releasing a game about war during an actual, real-world conflict.
It's perfectly understandable and I was expecting this given it's a game about war with tanks and modern weapons
Wishing Advance Wars the best once this horrible war is over
— 🌟 Ezereal 🌟 (@So_Ethereal) March 9, 2022
Timing is Everything, But So is Reading the Room
These are only two examples of how today’s global brands have been met with a timely and difficult marketing decision — with each choosing a path that led them to either cheers or jeers on social media. While neither decision is likely to have too much in the way of long-term impact on either brand, both serve as a reminder that it’s not only what we say as marketers that’s important but it’s also when we choose to say it.