As Predicted, Firebrand Flames Out
Less than five months after its launch, Firebrand, the all-ads-all-the-time cable channel and online site is, as we predicted from the start, closing operations. Investor's from NBC Universal to Microsoft to GE have pulled the plug and will no longer fund Firebrand and its ill-conceived belief people actually want to seek out and watch advertising as a form of content on equal footing with network programming or movies.
Despite our repeated doubt Firebrand would ever amount to anything more than a giant money hole, those involved with Firebrand, including CMO Shari Leventhal, continued to defend it. Following one of our many stories on the stupidity of the Firebrand business model and our prediction the end was near, Leventhal wrote us, "Your 'prediction' is wholly unsupported by your argument. Our model proves, once and for all, that marketing can be entertaining AND effective. And that viewers will gladly watch commercials. They just don't like to be interrupted...and won't watch bad commercials."
In one of our favorite trashings, we wrote, "when the historical behavior of modern day humans is to avoid most ads like the plague, we can't see Firebrand as anything more than a passing fancy especially when its entire business model seems to rest on a dying method of advertising. It's almost like someone in the conference room said, 'Fuck it. No one's watching our commercial so let's just create a branded destination, wrap it in hipster clothing and make it cool.'"
And so the flame has been doused. As we knew it would. And for those with aspirations to jump in where Firebrand failed, repeat after us, "ADS ARE NOT CONTENT. ADS ARE NOT ENTERTAINMENT. ADS SELL SHIT. THAT'S ALL THEY DO.'