Has Gareth Cliff taken things too far? For years he made his name as an opinionated voice which people respected because of his clear delivery and logical explanations. But now that he is backed up against the wall, his go-to controversial diatribe isn’t working in his favour. In fact, it seems to be making things a lot worse. He has officially been labeled by M-Net as “poison”:
M-Net and Idols face the very real prospect that the negative sentiment surrounding him will continue and poison the success of the show. This could affect viewership numbers, which in turn affects the revenue that will be generated from broadcasting the show.
When Gareth Cliff and his legal team started making demands from M-Net after they fired him from Idols, M-Net did as he requested in the form of a 144 page answering affidavit, instead of opting to reinstate him as a judge. The response was complete with online marketing research and social media analysis of how Cliff impacted the M-Net and Idols brands. Along with the document were press clippings, media coverage and media enquiries the brand had received.
Here’s what M-Net had to say about the analysis:
It clearly indicates that the negative mood towards Gareth Cliff on social media continued after his apology on 5 January.
If M-Net had permitted the 2016 season of Idols to continue with Gareth Cliff as judge and and the threats and calls for a boycott had grown, it would have become even more problematic to address the situation at a later stage and the damage to the Idols and M-Net brands would already have occurred. The public remains critical of Gareth Cliff.
This continued negativity and controversy demonstrates exactly why [M-Net and SIC Entertainment] felt that it was not appropriate to continue to be linked to Gareth Cliff.
Gareth Cliff’s claim that he received overwhelming support is clearly not correct, and that a significant portion of the public were clearly offended. Accordingly M-Net was entitled to take action to protect its brand and reputation.
The social media marketing research submitted by M-Net explained that there were 32 886 tweets mentioning Gareth Cliff between 4 and 12 January this year. Idols, M-Net, Mzansi Magic and DStv and MultiChoice were all suddenly mentioned in some of these tweets and social media discussions.
Other words that popped in the tweetcloud due to the high frequency of its use together with these words were “racist”, “hate speech”, “pennysparrow” and “hate”.
Although the positivity towards Cliff had increased, there was still significant negativity towards him [23% negativity between 9-12 January compared to 19% positivity].
Maybe if Gareth had just bowed out gracefully and hadn’t released a statement that took everything to the next level, he just might have had a leg to stand on. But it seems that everything has caught up with him. Cliff isn’t looking too bright after these decisions – neither from a business or self-preservation perspective.
Perhaps Gareth should take a leaf out of his own book and realise that without a mainstream presence, his own brand simply can’t carry him.
Think about it:
Back in 2009 Gareth first attempted to move to television as he probably felt comfortable in front of the camera having been on Idols since its second season began in 2003. He started with a talk show on M-Net every Wednesday at 8pm. It lasted one season, but at least then he had 5fm and Idols to fall back on.
His failure obviously didn’t shake him. When Gareth and his team left 5fm in 2014, he attempted to take his new online radio show CliffCentral to TV, this time through Comedy Central. It would become The Gareth Cliff Show, a live recording of the online radio show, basically showing the face of everyone in the studio. Really?
The decision was obviously clouded by a personal sense of grandeur without thinking failure was an option. I mean, who wouldn’t want to listen AND watch Gareth ramble his way through current topics without any censorship?
Comedy Central quickly denied him anymore airtime because his ratings weren’t high enough:
We mutually agreed to stop after 42 episodes and two months. This was an experiment for both parties and creatively we felt that we hit the right notes but unfortunately the ratings did not live up to the expectation.
Live TV on this scale is a big investment and it made total sense for Gareth to focus on the online and WeChat aspect of his operations at this point.
But now, having survived for 11 seasons, Idols is gone. And so is 5FM. And so is The Gareth Cliff TV show and so is his Comedy Central gig. Any and all association to ‘mainstream’ is gone and unlikely to appear again. Maybe that is why he is losing his shit and trying to draw more attention to himself with outlandish legal claims.
So now what? Is the next step to try and be even more outrageous on CliffCentral, although the online radio show is not as viable as he once assumed. Perhaps the show will become a new breeding ground for all those that agree with his freedom of speech bent that started this whole saga in the first place.
I hope someone forwards me the podcast.
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