Project Bradford Episode 007 Commentary

On Monday, April 12, 2021 an audio company unveiled a new slogan, “Make Audio Great Again™.” I was tagged in a tweet discussing the new tagline. I decided to do some research before commenting. Here are my comments. You might be surprised.

Under the media is a transcript of the conversation if you would prefer to read the content.

Transcript

This transcript is computer generated.

Welcome to Project Bradford recorded Thursday, April 15 2021. The main thing I want to talk about this week is something that happened on Monday. I’m gonna be really kind of discreet on companies and people. The reason is is because of something called the Streisand effect. For those of you aren’t familiar, the Streisand effect is about or was named after Barbra Streisand. A few years back, she did not like a photo of her that was published, it was a little unflattering. Well, rather than just simply let it go, what she did is she reached out to the newspaper The media and said, Hey, could you please pull that back? It’s not very nice. All that stuff, at which point, the news media went, No, we’re not going to and then they publicized the fact that Barbra Streisand did that. And by doing that, it brought more attention to the bad photo. So the idea being is, as soon as you mentioned something going on, everyone’s going to look at if you want something to go away, just don’t say anything. So that’s one of the reasons I’m not mentioning names. The other reason is, there’s the phrase, there’s no such thing as bad press. I’ll let you guys decide whether or not it is that way. But that is the basis of why I’m being somewhat discreet. And also, I don’t want anyone caught up in all of this that is an unwilling participant to explain. On Monday of this week, I was tagged in a tweet with a quote about think Bradford Benn. Now the way I took that is originally to be, they were making reference to my habit, and my process of always disclaiming my comments when I was working for a major company. I would say, you know, I speak for myself, the comments I make here Don’t, don’t reflect the views of anyone else. don’t reflect my dog don’t reflect my friends don’t reflect my wife don’t reflect my enemies. They’re my comments. And that’s the way I took that comment. However, that’s not the way everyone else took it. And that person got some heat, I believe, I know, I got some heat, just because people assumed what my view was going to be on the topic. So I figured I’m going to talk a little bit about the topic itself. What happened this week, was an audio company put a new slogan on their website. The slogan was make audio great again. And they trademarked it. Now, the first thing I’m going to say, I am not commenting about the politics of this. There are conservatives, there are liberals. They’re agnostics. They’re Republicans, there are Democrats, there are communists, there are libertarians, there are pasta firings. There’s people who just don’t care about politics and everyone in between. That’s your business. I’m not going to comment on that at all. And I know that sounds kind of unexpected coming from me. But I think it’s an important distinction to make. Yes, on my company’s page advisor comm I do list my business beliefs. And the reason I do that is because that is how I run my business. I’m not saying that’s how you run yours, or anyone else has to run their business. So this company decided to follow their business beliefs. And that’s 100% there, right? Whether you agree with it or not. Now, what got kind of interesting to me is, this was a thought out idea. It wasn’t just a Hey, let’s throw up the slogan. So to me, that makes me think that either there wasn’t enough thought there was that thought or somewhere in the middle. So the reason I say it’s somewhere in the middle is the company in question started to trademark that in June of 2020.

The trademark was granted March 24 of 2021. So that means it was a long time, money was invested in this process. Now the way I found this out, I went to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I did a quick Google quick search within it and then found all that information you’re more than welcome to if you want. So that means they actually thought about this. It wasn’t just a one off comment. And the reason I say that some Important, as I’m sure we all know, of companies where an employee has made a one off comment. You know, there have been times people have made double entendres about the term audio rack. And that person, I’m pretty sure was disciplined for that comment, because it wasn’t a very wise comment for them to make, especially on the internet. But that’s one person, not the company, this was an act by the company. And that makes the things a little different. Now, it’s 100%. In their right, they can do that. But you also can’t say that they knew it was going to be divisive. They were aware, in those nine months, I’m pretty sure of how divisive this could be. Now, that’s their right to do it. And there are other companies who have done divisive things. You know, this week, there was 150, companies that co signed a letter and put a two page ad in the Wall Street, or sorry, The New York Times and The Washington Post about voter rights, they decided to approach that top is the thought was made. The example I’ll use is Nike lost 2.2% of its market valuation, the day after the first column Kaepernick advertisement ran. But they also made that up in revenue because of the support of that advertisement. So obviously, they had thought about that. They knew there was going to be some pushback, but they decided this was what the company wanted. Now, if this company in question, who decided to use the phrase, make audio great, again, used it without thinking about that process? That’s a whole different story. And that comes down to business, and the smarts of it. You know, there are all sorts of examples in the history of audio, other industries, car companies, you know, I can go on and on about the inadvertent divisiveness that can be caused when they haven’t thought thought something through. Dove is one of the most recent offenders of that, and they’ve had to had to make some changes. And I agree with that. But I also agree, that was probably unintentional. Because as soon as it was pointed out, off they went. Now, I’m not gonna say it was unintentional. I’m not gonna say it wasn’t mean spirited, I’m just gonna say they made a decision, it wasn’t the right one. And that’s kind of what happened with this audio company. By the end of Monday, that slogan had already been taken off of the website. So that makes me think people responded, pushed back, maybe someone else got wind of the idea. And what No, no, no, that’s not a good idea. There are all sorts of ways this could have happened. But my point is, it was their right to do it. Justice, it’s my right not to do business with them.

It’s just like, it’s your right to do business with them. We each Can, can spend our money and our and our company’s money as we see fit. But that’s one of the things I want to point out, this was a company. Now, if an employee says I am not going to use Brand X, because I don’t agree with their politics, that starts to get into some interesting areas. Because the company might not agree with that. There are other times when a privately held company has its ownership group, or its owner saying things that you don’t agree with, and you decide not to specify that company. And that becomes kind of the while you’re punishing people who aren’t necessarily impacted or agree with those comments. And I understand that it’s happening right now with Publix here in Florida. It’s a slippery slope. On Twitter, I have said I’m watching Major League Baseball, even though I don’t like baseball. And the reason is, is I support them and their decision to move the all star game. There are other people who don’t like me stating that and that’s their right. I’m fine with that. There are other people who aren’t going to watch baseball because of that. And that’s fine. That’s there, right? I’m not gonna argue about the the legal ramifications and ethical morals in this piece, because that’s not the point of it. The point of it is, it’s their right to make that opinion. Just like it’s other people’s rights to respond to that opinion. Now there will be people who say, well, you’re limiting free speech, and this is canceled culture and all those things. Nope. 100% not limiting free speech. Free Speech says that the government cannot make laws prohibiting the use of speech. It does not say that there are no repercussions for your speech. And that’s what’s happening. And this is commercial speech. It’s protected under the same amendment, the First Amendment of the government can’t make laws about it. But the people, the population, the constituencies, all of these different phrases you don’t want to use, they can comment on it. It’s part of the free market economy. If you don’t like a company, you don’t have to use them. If you do like a company, you can use them. And how you decide to do that is your prerogative. I’m not going to make a comment right now about what I think of this idea. I think, overall, that the company made a mistake from a business standpoint, not from anything else, from a business standpoint, purposefully using a divisive phrase, as a as a slogan. Now, the reason I say purposely, and not just Oh, it happened accidentally, they trademarked it, they went through the process of waiting till the trademark was granted before they started using it. That’s why I say purposely,

to me, that’s a business decision. That is something that that company did not fully think through. They didn’t realize all of the ramifications. Or perhaps they didn’t realize all the ramifications, such as lost business or increased business, or this or that and decided that’s what they want to do, especially if they’re privately held company. That’s their right. And I support their right to do that doesn’t mean I agree with it. But I support their right to do that and use those phrases. The company decided that was the branding they wanted to use, including all of the history of the terms, all of the connotations with it not annotations, connotations with it, of that phrase. And that’s their decision. 100% agree. They can do that if they want. But they have to expect there won’t be repercussions. And that’s just part of marketing is just part of doing the company in question did not do anything wrong. They might have done something questionable from a business standpoint, but it is 100% within their right. Just like it’s 100% within the right of the 150 companies that co signed that letter supporting voting rights. That was their right, just like the owner of a pillow company can support conservative views. It’s their right, it doesn’t mean there won’t be repercussions. It doesn’t mean I agree with it. But I agree it’s there, right. And that’s both the good thing and bad thing that happens in a free market and a free country. You can say what you want, but there are going to be repercussions. Now, having said that, I hope this has helped you understand why I didn’t jump in and why I don’t think it’s my place to jump in. Like I said, I thought it was a bad decision. That’s all I have to say about that. But it’s their right to say that that I think is important that people sometimes are missing. And also I think one of the things that’s missing is actually listening to and talking with each other doubt. It’s, we’re all in this together. You want to make a change and you want to boycott that company. Great. You want to support that company, great. But just know that is that company’s right to do that just like it’s your your right to not support them or to support them. Too often these discussions start to become ad hominem attacks attacking the person and not the topic, and I’m staying out of that. The reason is, is what does that help? as Matt Scott and I said a couple weeks ago on the podcast, we can’t think of any time Twitter has changed someone’s mind or Facebook or Instagram, or pick your social media that you want. Now I will say there have been times some of the posts that have occurred online Then. And some of the tweets that have occurred have changed my mind about a company or person. But it has not changed my view. And that’s a harder thing to think about how much of this is about the view and how much of it is about the person that so they’re not attacking attacking a protected class. They decided this is the way they want to position themselves. That’s their right. Do I think I was smart? Nope. Do I think it was a bad business decision? Yes. You. It’s the decision they made and the business impact it has. That is the issue that people have to think about. And it is 100%. Your right to decide to use them or not use them, to watch baseball to not watch baseball, to drink Coca Cola, drink Pepsi, to avoid this fast food chain or go to that fast food chain. All of those are your money. It’s a marketing decision as much as a political decision. And that’s 100% there right. Now, I’m sure there going to be some people that disagree with me. Great, put it in the comments, drop me an email.

So that’s kind of a long winded speech to get through all of this, but I thought it was worth commenting on because it’s kind of a hot topic. And to me, it’s important to realize it’s not always the fight, want to get into now I can comment about all of the voting rights, and all of the LGBTQ issues and all of these other things. But that’s not the purpose of this. This is to say that was a business decision. Their stance 100% impacts their business. And that’s their right. I’m not saying whether it’s right or wrong. I’m just saying it’s their right. And to some degree privilege to do that. So this was a little longer than I thought a little heavier than I thought. But I think it’s important, we all take a step back every so often. And remember, people have freedom of speech, companies have freedom of speech. We have freedom of choice to do business with. But I also think that using a phrase, like make audio great again, and not thinking it was going to kick up some controversy, that short sighted and that’s one of the reasons I’m not using their name, because perhaps that’s all this was intended to do is to make their name known again. So that’s my two cents, probably three and a half. At this point. I’m not going to do a mic drop. I’m just going to cartwheel off my soapbox and wish you all Peace and good health.

Project Bradford Episode 003
Commentary about ISE

There is a saying that change is constant except from vending machines. I believe that has been seen today, March 11, 2021, by the fact that ISE 2021 or Integrated Systems Europe has been cancelled or drastically changed. The year since the pandemic was declared has been unprecedented. The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

The first thing I want to say is that this news isn’t something for people to gloat about or rejoice about. This news has serious impact. It definitely has financial ramifications for many people and companies. These changes as well as other impact people beyond the attendees. It impacts the exhibitors, the hotels and restaurants, the venue, and all of their employees. I want to make sure that’s clear before I comment about anything these changes are not just a small change these have huge repercussions for many people and companies. I will repeat that change is constant; things have been changing for more than fourteen months.

A year ago, if you asked me if AVNation would be sold, I would not have thought it was probable. Given the economic situations that occurred in 2020, six months later we had to react to the new situation and looked to sell. I don’t say the new normal because it’s just new, not saying it’s normal it’s just new. A similar thing happened to me personally. A year ago, I was employed full time. I was leaving on vacation when I came back a pandemic had been declared I never went back to the office beyond a few hours. I was laid off in November. I started my own company in November as a result of not being able to find full time employment so definitely things are not typical. This is not to say woe is me or look at how bad things are this is to say that things change, and things change constantly.

Yes, ten days ago ISE Europe said the show was going to happen as scheduled however since that time things have changed. These changes could be from exhibitors saying they were not going to attend. Some companies that already said they were not going to attend. The change could be a result of the fact that there are still travel limitations. It was very probable that attendance levels were going to be down. The change could be a reaction to fact that not everyone is planning on getting vaccinated. All of these items can add to why this change occurred.

I’m not going to judge I’m simply going to say it has changed. The show producers made a new decision based on the current information.

I am sure these decisions were not easy for AVIXA, ISE, or CEDIA to make. AS I said these have huge repercussions both financially and personally. This change impacts many people but based on the situation as it is known now I think it was an understandable decision to make. I am not saying it’s right or wrong; that will be debated for years. Each person has their own opinion as to whether or not it was right or wrong. I think it was very prudent to make the change in the show. I also think it was responsible.

Given the various levels of adherence to protocols, attention to details, or simple logistics I think things were going to have to change either way.

If one looks at a trade show booth requiring social distance of 6 feet between people makes a 10 foot by 10 foot or three meters by three-meter trades show booth becomes unusable. How much larger do the booths have to become to meet social distancing requirements even after vaccination. Just from a pure logistics standpoint the amount of space available might not have been enough for the show to be put on safely. Don’t forget the aisles need to be wider. There needs to be greater distance between tables in the food court. How large do demonstration or listening rooms need to become? It is not just about the exhibit floor itself. There are many variables that need to be considered beyond the obvious ones.

There was a fashion trade show in Orlando during February 2021. It required proof that you did not have COVID before you arrived at the at the show. It also included temperature checks on the way into the exhibit hall. However, that show has a lower attendance than ISE or InfoComm. How successful the show was depends on who you ask.

Yes, ISE has changed to become four regional events. This change also means that travel has become less of an issue for many people. It means that people can make it a day trip instead of a week trip which is both good and bad. It also impacts the exhibitors. Do they attend every show and set up a full show or is it just a tabletop show? The AVnation team is already working on answers to these questions.

One of the things I have started thinking about is how long does it take when someone travels beyond just the time on location. As an example, when leaving the state of Florida, one is supposed to quarantine for two weeks in many of the States. That is the guidance that has been given, I am not going to debate if it is correct or not. It is the guidance being given by public health commissions. If one attends a trade show in Florida and then returns to their home state, that is an additional 2 weeks of separation. I have spoken with people about the process, and it is more onerous process then just staying home. Some states indicate that you should stay in a hotel so as to not infect other people in the household.

These quarantine rules and practices typically are more stringent when crossing international borders. Some countries require quarantining at an approved hotel, that the traveler must pay for. Now a one-week trade show can impact up to five weeks due to quarantine on the way in and the return.

As I said we are never going to know if the change was the right or wrong thing to do. There will be people who will lambast ISE for making changes. There will be some people who support them for making these changes. I support them for making a decision and not being afraid to change it when conditions changed. The best any of us can hope for is to be able to make a decision based on the conditions at the current moment. It is similar to working on a construction project, one has to deal with the site conditions. It is not possible to install ceiling speakers if the ceiling is not installed yet.

That is basically what ISE, CEDIA, and AVIXA decided to do they looked at the conditions and they made changes to take into account the current situation.

I live in Florida, I hope that InfoComm takes place in October 2021. I fully understand if it cannot occur. I understand the impact to the industry both for AV but also to tourism here in Florida. I am very much aware of the impact of tourism here in Florida. I fully expect conditions to change over the seven months as to whether or not a show is practical. I expect AVIXA will make a decision in five months about whether or not having a show is safe and practical for everyone involved.

That truly is the key to this situation and world conditions. Making the best decision is all that one can do based on the information available at the time. It has been proven time and time again hindsight is 2020. I can provide examples of how information has been ignored for business decisions resulting in horrible outcomes, but that is not the purpose of this commentary.

I believe that trade show organizers need to look for reasons an event can be held safely. If every one of the issues cannot be mitigated, the show should not occur. It is the opposite of looking for exceptions, it is looking for confirmation of the safety. Health is a really important thing. Some of the lingering effects from COVID are still being discovered and understood.

I would not have attended ISE in June. Until I am vaccinated, I do not plan on traveling. Even then I will follow the suggested protocols of distancing and masks. I don’t believe everyone is taking the same level of precautions. That is an important thing to consider, I do not have faith in people to think of others and follow the guidance. That puts my health and future health in the control of someone I do not know.

My belief is that the change was made as I am not the only person who feels that way. I do know that the decision was not made lightly. Knowing what it takes to produce a trade show, the cost, planning, logistics, and the amount of people involved this decision isn’t just a flip of a switch. This change was made as a reaction to concerns. My belief is that AVIXA, CEDIA and ISE made the right decision. They just based it on the information they had available at the time and when conditions changed, they changed.

That is all one can hope for, as things change react to the changes.

I am sure there are people who disagree with me. I am sure there are people who are going to be apoplectic about this change. There are people who will say the change to four events means it is not the same and they would have attended the single show. There will be the comments of how can we get back to normal if we do not do normal things again. I fully understand and that is their right to have an opinion. My experience is no matter what you do someone’s going to be unhappy so you have to make the decision that you can live with. I know I personally would not want to think that I made a decision that got someone sick or worse resulted in their death. Before the argument of over 99% of COVID patients living is mentioned, remember that does not mean living without lingering effects. It also ignores the friends in the audio industry we have lost to COVID such as Blair McNair and Ray Rayburn.

I agree with this decision. I support it. We move on from here. Please feel free to leave comments the sections below or on Twitter.

Thank you for taking the time to listen and consider my comments.

Peace and Good Health

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