One of NBC's taglines when I was younger was, "NBC: Proud as a Peacock."
This was a riff, of course, on the NBC mascot/logotype. But unfortunately, early in the process of transition that moves VERSUS into the NBC Sports brand, it seems more descriptive of an actual peacock - a strutting bird whose main value is as a sideshow, flashing its feathers grandiosely but doing little else.
This impression was reinforced by today's changeover on the Web, as NBCSports.com took over VERSUS.com - killing off an entire collection of INDYCAR content from such notables as veteran scribe Jeff Olson and grassroots blogger heroes Jeff Iannucci and Roy Hobbson, and making INDYCAR - ostensibly, the network's top motorsports brand - second fiddle to NASCAR.
It is an ignominious beginning for INDYCAR with NBC. INDYCAR fans and pundits, of course, have until today been thrilled with the idea that NBC's involvement might be a cure for the absolutely dreadful Nielson ratings that have plagued the series on VERSUS. More network attention, better distribution of the NBC Sports Channel (or whatever they're going to call VERSUS now), more investment in the broadcasts... all of these things were on INDYCAR fans' wishlists.
"Well, wait," you might be saying. "This is just the first day." That, of course, is true. But you know what they say about first impressions - you only get one shot to make a good one.
Putting up a website where INDYCAR is still referred to as the IRL, having an incomplete statistical database, and treating the series like a secondary concern to NASCAR... that's like showing up at your date's door wearing flip-flops and Buttafuoco pants and lacking deodorant. It's a lack of effort that is just appalling, and no matter how entertaining the dinner banter gets, you're always playing catch-up from there.
Sure, this is a knee-jerk reaction. That's what basement-dwelling trolls like me do best. But considering how far in advance most companies plan branding overhauls, this one gives off a vibe of being decidedly last-minute - foisted off onto an intern while the real business gets taken care of by the first team.
In other words, it feels like INDYCAR got big-leagued - and as a blogger, I have way too much experience with that already to be willing to give this latest example a free pass.
Get with the program, NBC. We expect better from you than this.