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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Prospect Theory: My thoughts on the shelving of One Life to Live and All My Children

The plan to continue One Life to Live and All My Children online was an experiment.  One that had a lot of risk involved.  Knowing this, I opted to be a little forgiving of some of the trials and errors.  Or at least I was at first.  There were a lot of trials and errors.  Too many of them if we’re going to be real about it.

While Prospect Park seems to want to shift the blame to ABC, I feel that a lot of went wrong with rebooting the shows falls squarely on their shoulders.  The gentleman with Prospect Park have reputations for being mavericks in the entertainment business however, their behavior seemed more uneducated than daring.

Before I dive into the what-went-wrongs, I would like to start by stating I admire the work and effort that the cast and crew put into One Life to Live and All My Children.  It’s clear that they really wanted to make the reboots successful.  The actors really shown in their performances and I’m glad that they will be eligible for Daytime Emmys.  I enjoyed may aspects of both shows and my criticisms have nothing to do with the work that was put into them.  I do not fault the cast and crew for what happened.  The disappointment with the Prospect Park reboots that I am going to share is about what happened off screen and is from my perspective as a fan.

The Lawsuit

For me personally, the biggest mistake that was made (and continues to be made) was the filing of the lawsuit against ABC Daytime.  I really hate that this lawsuit exists.  If ABC did in fact violate an agreement, then by all means sue away!  However, don’t insult me in the process.  I did not need to read pages of General Hospital and the stories that I was enjoying being called trash.  The whole lawsuit makes me feel that Prospect Park’s opinion of soap fans is pretty low.  It coddles couple shipper trolls and uses terms such as “soap apocalypse” and “megasoap.”

To add more injury to this insult, the lawsuit attacks people in the soap business that I as a longtime fan care about such as my favorite actor for example.  In all I felt it is not only bizarrely inaccurate but disrespectful to the hardworking individuals in the industry and their loyal fans.

I believe that the lawsuit didn't just hurt some feelings.  It hurt One Life to Live and All My Children.  It is a complete turn off for those who are not familiar with soaps.  Try explaining this lawsuit to someone who doesn’t watch soaps and then wait for his or her reaction.  I can only imagine how all this looked to potential investors and business partners.

The Weak PR and Online Interaction

Many were a bit skeptical when it was announced that Prospect Park was making a second go of its attempt to revive the soaps but they were also excited to have the shows back.  Members of the soap press would have been happy to help promote had they been given the opportunity.  Richard Sims from Soaps In Depth offered to assist with social media and was ignored.  Entertainment writer Jeff Giles wrote a book about one of the soaps (Llanview in the Afternoon) and was directed to a non-working email address when he asked for comments.  These are just a couple of examples.  There was tons of opportunity for free promotion that was not taken.

Promotion and PR was left to the good people who were creating these shows.  When the weekly episode count was cut in half, it was the actors who responded to customer complaints and tried to provide positive spin.  This was not suppose to be their job but Prospect Park’s PR team seems to be as non-existent as the mighty unicorn.  At the very least, if the actors were going to put their reputations on the line and try to spin hay into gold then they should have been kept informed by Prospect Park. Making employees scramble to respond to something on your behalf they know nothing about is just rude.

For a soap, General Hospital has a strong online presence.  Their facebook page has over a million followers and their twitter account has over 100,000 followers.  The creative teams and actors are active online.  @soapsindepthabc has more followers than @soapsindepthcbs.  All these accounts have more followers than TOLN’s various accounts.  This is the audience that Prospect Park should have tried to snag.  Instead they dissed this fanbase’s show and only interacted with a few fans, most of whom seemed bitter towards General Hospital for breaking up a fictional couple or something of that nature.  This made me not want to interact with them.  Playing nicely would have had a much better result.

After awhile the PR campaign slogan seemed to be “blame ABC.”  This didn’t impress me for a number of reasons.  I do blame ABC for not firing Brian Frons earlier than they did.  I do blame ABC for allowing good programs to be neglected and then canceling them.  I don’t blame them for actors finding other work.  I don’t blame them for Prospect Park’s lack of soap knowledge.  I don’t blame them for Prospect Park’s lack of follow through or communication.

Brand = No Clue

There seemed to be confusion when it came to the brands of these soaps, in particular One Life to Live.  Logos and names aren’t brands.  They are just logos and names.  Brand is emotional connection.  Folgers Coffee’s brand is not a tin can filled with coffee.  It’s parents waking up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee and coming down stairs Christmas morning to find their son has made it home for the holidays.  “Peter, you’re home!”  In other words, the brand is the story.

All My Children did a good job of going back to the brand it had lost during it’s last few years on ABC Daytime.  There was a feeling of family and young love, a coupling of danger with innocence.  You would not see this in any of the online ads for the show though.  Just purple boxes with logos on them asking you to click here to watch.  Watch what exactly?

One Life to Live seemed to have been taken over by one of Vicki’s alters.  While it had some very entertaining moments and an amazingly talented cast, the focus was put onto a nightclub, the murder of a dayplayer hooker, and a strange tattoo toting evil organization that bored me to tears.  Where was the family dysfunction and diversity?

The photo shoot that Prospect Park did was really cool but a picture is not going to make someone tune in for the first time.  People needed to know what the shows were about and what kinds of stories they would be treated to.  They needed to know how watching these shows would make them feel.  They were never given this information.

Prospect Park ended up not being the soap savior many had hoped.  I am a little worried that they may have hurt the genre a little bit.  I don’t want those who really did put their soul into the shows to take the hit for Prospect Park’s poor decisions.  Some of the actors had other opportunities that they did not take because of their contracts with Prospect Park.  Many were counting on the steady work.  Many more were hoping that this little experiment would be successful and bring a positive light to the soap genre.  For me, that hope is now gone.

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