Top Gear : is it a broken brand ?

The new series of Top Gear launched on Sunday and promptly got off to a poor start.

Only drawing 4.4 million views (the last series averaged 5.8 million).

Sysomos tracked over 70k tweets and the sentiment was 75% negative with many branding it boring.

How did it all go so wrong?

We decided to have a brief look at the brand using our BRAVE methodology and quickly felt that everything about the new programme lacked Boldness.

By that I mean that it didn’t stand out and didn’t stand for something new and interesting.

In fact, the more one considers the decisions the BBC made, the more one can sense a committee making what appear to be sensible and rational decisions.

Firstly to keep the brand and it’s key assets – the marque, theme and opening credits, the editorial format, the features and the slot.

The only major change being the presenters.“Think about it rationally” I can hear someone saying, “we just need equally big names, who like cars and are good with guests.”

The two main presenters messers Evans and Le Blanc were brought in as big names to attract new viewers, and importantly viewers form across the pond.

Trouble is, they are not automotive journalists.

Problem solved with another dollop of rational thinking – we’ll get some respected automotive journalists – some that look presentable, not too old and are relatively un-mad.

F1 fans like cars and old Top Gear was anti-F1 – so we can capture that demographic with Bernie Ecclestone.

Then, we won’t change the format that the audience is familiar with – we’ll keep the Stig and some of the features and guests.

That all seems to the rational mind to make sense, to retain the assets of the brand and to minimise the risks. What could possibly go wrong as Mr Clarkson would have said?

The problem with this approach is that is lacked boldness. What might have appeared to be rational thinking and prudent brand management ultimately created a slightly paler version of what went before.

Being bold makes you stand out, and as a brand that is vital to a thriving brand. Being just a little bit different is not a viable strategy.

So, come on Top Gear – be Brave and be Bold !