Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show and NBC

The past few days have produced quite a bit of news regarding the whole blow-up between Jay, Conan and NBC. As of this writing it almost looks like everyone is going to walk and throw the NBC late night lineup in to turmoil.

But wait. Why am I writing about this here? On a blog geared towards graphic design?

Well, let me tell you.

It struck me last night after I heard yet another story about the whole thing… What is NBC showing regarding its’ brands and how it values them?

Aside from the big brand of NBC, there are three brands here trying to coexist in an ever-shrinking arena. The brands of the two personalities and the brand of The Tonight Show itself. Right now, I see the Tonight Show brand as the casualty because NBC is willing to change it’s time slot which may erode its’ viewer base. And all of this for the sake of assisting another brand, Jay Leno.

I may be wrong, but I believe that to favor the brand of a personality over the brand of an established show is a risky undertaking. To produce a viable show is difficult enough but to think the main reason for a shows success is a singular personality is folly. The classic case is that of actor David Caruso. He left NYPD Blue and some thought the show would have a tough time keeping its’ audience. Because the producers, in part, believed the quality and brand of the show was greater than a single personality or character, they were able to focus on the quality of the show itself and it was able to flourish for several more seasons.

While creative personalities are indeed vital to the overall quality of a show, it is also true that a single person is usually not able to keep alive a show which is low quality. Hence, the show itself should usually be seen as the most important brand to ensure is of the highest quality.

NBC is in dangerous territory if it ignores the Tonight Show brand in deference to it’s two personality brands. NBC should move quickly to solve this situation before too much damage is done to it’s Tonight Show brand.

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