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Bell Takes Bat and Runs Home – says "Na-na-na-na-boo-boo"

Seems like there’s a battle royale brewing between Bell Canada and Digital Home Canada – one of (if not the)  online resource for those interested in digital entertainment in Canada.

A few weeks ago Digital Home ran a post called New ExpressVu HD Receivers Expected By July that was a bit of a scoop for them. It included detailed information from internal Bell communications.

In a March bulletin, Bell informed its dealers that it would be introducing brand new ‘MPEG4’ receivers in July 2007. Dish Network currently has several HD receivers that can decode MPEG4 for sale in the U.S. including the VIP 211 and the VIP611.
It is our belief the new ExpressVu receivers will be re-branded DISH VIP211 and VIP611 receivers. Digital Home will post further details and pricing information when ExpressVu formally announces the new receivers. In the interim here is a brief overview of the Echostar receivers.

Bell threatened to pull all advertising from the site if owner Hugh Thompson did not remove the article.  Thompson refused saying it was accurate reportage and the next day Bell pulled their ads.

Yesterday, I was contacted by a press relations representative from Bell Canada and was informed that Bell Canada “might” pull its advertising from Digital Home Canada if the article was not removed from the Digital Home site.
The PR representative explained the request came from Pat Button, the Vice President of Marketing at ExpressVu. The representative said Mr. Button had seen the article and demanded it be taken down from the site because it was having a negative impact on dealer sales. The representative also said that it was impossible for Bell to be releasing new HD receivers this year because a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the receivers had not even been issued by ExpressVu.
These comments were in direct contrast with information that I had received from multiple ExpressVu dealers which I shared with Bell and asked them comment on.

What makes this more than another marketing exec getting his hair mussed up by a leaked announcement is the fact that the site in question is an online forum that is primarily driven by reader generated content.  Repeat after me folks – online communities are NOT a good bunch to pick a fight with.

Digital Home responded with Readers Lambaste Bell Over Decision To Pull Ads which pulls together some of the scathing comments readers have been submitting to the site.
Things like:

"It is also a sad commentary on Bell management that they would so ‘attack’ what should be seen as a key demographic for them – the expert users, first adopters, and ‘informed’ customers that frequent forums like this…. Yet another case of a large corporation that can’t even get the basics of PR 101 right. And thanks Hugh for making a disciplined and informed stand."

"Uhm, that reprint of the bulletin basically calls BEV’s bull about no new receivers and invalidates the reason for their ad pullout. They seriously need to stop lying to their customer base and stop treating people like they are. I can easily switch to local cable and their HD PVR offering. They are getting better and have been providing better support and channel options as of late and I am willing to sacrifice things in favour of a company that doesn’t treat me/us like ****"

"Whoever this Mr.Button is, he should be relieved of his duties at Bell. It only takes one ignoramus in a higher management position to bring down heavy unwanted bad PR for Bell Canada. This will spread like wildfire, and watch Bell taking a bigger hit due to their ignorant stance. Kudos to Digital Home – don’t get bullied."

"I for one will be canceling my ExpressVu non-contract account, my home phone and business phone service if they do issue new receivers in 2007. I will sell my 9200 and my other receivers. I refuse to do business with BLATANT LIARS."

These "I’ll pull my ads if you don’t do what I say" things always seemed to show a lack of good sportsmanship to me but in this age of social media and user generated content it strikes me more like having a death wish.
Can anyone get away with this in 2007?
Besides, what would Frank And Gordon say?


  1. digitalhomecanada
    digitalhomecanada April 23, 2007

    Thanks Ken and OneDegree for highlighting, which for Digital Home is a very frustrating situation.
    Our site does not have the reach of a CBC or a Toronto Star, however for several hundreds of thousands of tech savvy Canadians, we are the only consumer site that consistently provides information about the products and services offered by companies like Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Videotron, Cogeco, Panasonic, Hitachi, Sony and more. I may not have the millions of eyeballs that a big portal has but I have 200,000 eyeballs that are seriously interested in these products!
    To give an example, several years ago when Rogers announced their new $700 HD PVR, a Rogers VP joined us for an online chat about the product because Rogers understood the importance of communicating with early adopters and influences. Since that time our readership has triples.
    Bell and similar companies don’t seem to understand that studies are suggesting that 90% of on-line consumers research consumer electronics on the web before buying.
    Our readers typically find out about Digital Home when they are “Googling” products such as the ExpressVu receivers discussed in our article. They check out the first few links in the organic search and typically find one from Bell, one from a retailer and one from Digital Home. Invariably, they visit us because they “don’t trust” the company website, they know the retailer won’t provide them with any more information than the company site, so they come to Digital Home.
    If you want news or information about ExpressVu then Digital Home really shines! Check out Google news today and type in ExpressVu as a keyword search. For the last week, the top three news stories came from Digital Home.
    Our site prides itself on having lots of good news information for our readers and members about Home Theatre, Home Phone, Home Automation, Internet Service Providers and Wireless in Canada. Now if you were Bell ExpressVu, Bell Canada, Bell Digital Voice, Bell Sympatico, Bell Home Monitoring or Bell Mobility, wouldn’t that be a great place to advertise?
    Hugh Thompson
    Digital Home

  2. Bell Pencil Pusher
    Bell Pencil Pusher April 23, 2007

    I don’t work in the Expressvu section, but I know some over there.
    The management is all afraid that new owners will fire them. As far as Sabia is concerned Expressvu can do no wrong.
    But they are offshoring all our jobs in all divisions.

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