TV (which we called the "idiot box" in my youth) usually holds little appeal for me, so I haven't invested in a flat-screen set. I have a regular, box-shaped box. The images of the Cup, however, were broadcast in Bermuda in a ratio that suited only the wide screen. At my house, that meant two teams of squashed-up stick figures battling it out with an oval ball on a diamond-shaped pitch.
Letterboxing would have solved the problem, but perhaps the transmitting TV station figured that everyone in rich Bermuda has a flat screen. I should buy one for the occasion, was the consensus, but they cost upward of $2,000 in Bermuda.
Even so, I thought of buying one, but Digicel, a cell phone provider and local TV sponsor, had placed a flashing advertisement in the top-left hand corner of the screen, a giant crawl running repeatedly across the bottom, and an elephant in the bottom right-hand corner, presumably to attract Republicans to their products. Occasionally, the ball would be passed to the elephant, but it never scored. Even after I'd Scotch-taped Post-It notes across the offending areas and the pachyderm, the twisted visuals made the game unwatchable.
(All the half-time ads were letterboxed, because those advertisers are not staffed by morons. Even tiny Bermuda companies were smart enough to letterbox their ads, in case some loser like me happened to be watching on a legacy set.)
So, although I have watched every World Cup since 1962, even going so far as to attend the 1966 competition (so gloriously won by "Ingerland"), this year I skipped most of it.
I had been guilty of misplaced optimism. Optimism, of course, is always misplaced, not only by those like me, rooting for Ingerland, who are always among the world's worst finalists. Pessimists are never disappointed. When something turns out badly, it's just as the pessimist expected. If it turns out well, that's a bonus. Optimists, on the other hand, can at best only achieve what they thought they would. Most of the time, they are disappointed.
Insurance is a pessimist's game. People buy insurance in case something bad happens. Other people sell insurance accepting that something bad is likely to happen, and hoping to shave a profit by correctly pricing the impending bad news. I refer here to property/casualty insurers, where a bad outcome is a possibility, rather than life insurers, where it's a racing certainty.
One cannot blame the people who transmit Bermuda's TV coverage. Technology is hard. Digicel, however, must have calculated that millions would be glued to the screen. Let's pre-empt the action, Digicel must have said, because people can't do anything about it. The company had obviously decided to employ a bunch of boneheads and let them do their worst, feeling--perhaps rightly, for all I know--that customers will buy cell phones no matter what indignities are visited upon them. Please don't buy anything from Digicel.
Idiots, obviously, should not be put in charge of anything that might affect product sales, but that's not the lesson to be learned here. Ditto, not placing digitized elephants in a soccer game. If you're making decisions for your company, spare a thought for the consumer, who can always turn the TV, or your product, off and buy from someone else.
is a Bermuda-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®.
August 1, 2010
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