Promethean partners with pariah.

October 27, 2011

Note: March 5, 2013 – Several months ago Jean-Yves Charlier lost his position at Promethean World. His idiotic decision to partner with Channel One certainly did not help his relations with the board of directors.


From Jim Metrock:

Big, important people in Big Business make mistakes all the time.  Sometimes they make Big Mistakes.

I remember when Coca-Cola came out with New Coke.   The CEO behind that disaster was Roberto Goizueta.

It was before my time, but the brilliant executives of the White Star cruise line thought the Titanic was really, honest-to-gosh unsinkable and arrogantly chose to have 

fewer life boats.  Then management, always with an eye for good publicity and resulting profits, thought it was a splendid idea to speed through icebergs at night so their arrival could be in New York’s morning papers.  The result of course was a true disaster. The company made the papers in the worst way possible. The CEO was Joseph Bruce Ismay.

Just because you become a chief executive officer of a corporation doesn’t prevent you from making truly awful decisions.


Do you know the name Reed Hastings? Few do, but future MBA students will study this man and the company he built and tried to destroy.

Mr. Hastings is the CEO (currently) of Netflix.  He thought it was a good idea to split his company into two separate businesses. That his customers would now have to deal with two accounts as opposed to one didn’t concern Mr. Hastings too much. That his decision would complicate the lives of his customers wasn’t a big deal to him. On top of that, Mr. Hastings though customers wouldn’t mind a price increase. Not surprisingly, it didn’t work. Netflix stock was worth over $300 a share before Mr. Hastings made his decision public in July. Today it is $80 and going the wrong way. That’s what happens when CEOs and their companies display an arrogant disregard for customers.

And that brings us to Jean-Yves Charlier, CEO of a company called Promethean. They make an interactive white board used by businesses and schools.

Mr. Charlier is responsible for his company’s unholy alliance with the pariah of American education – Channel One.

Promethean it seems wants to be a part of the advertising-in-schools controversy. Why? Who knows, but I suspect it is the ancient motivator: greed.  Promethean, like their partner Channel One, sees a captive audience of schoolchildren and says, heck, why not exploit these kids.

So Channel One commercial content will begin coming into classrooms via Promethean boards instead of Channel One’s old, analog TV sets. This fact will doubtlessly be effectively used by Promethean competitors.  Educators overwhelming find Channel One News distasteful. Teachers want to be in control of their classrooms and Channel One’s contract (which we assume will be unchanged when the method of viewing changes) demands that teachers show their program 90% of school days.  There’s a reason no educational organization endorses the use of Channel One News in classrooms.

Teachers in schools with Channel One see how the program has become hyper-commercialized. Ads are in the supposedly non-commercial part of the program. That’s why Promethean’s claim to have an ad-free Channel One alternative for secondary schools is just not true. There is no part of the daily program that is off limits to advertising. Even in a video on Promethean’s site touting its Channel One product they show a clip from the program that is an example of how Channel One mixes ads with news and other content. [The clip shows a quiz about the number 4. What Promethean doesn’t show educators and school administrators is that this quiz is a long-form commercial for the movie I Am Number Four.]

Movie commercials and ads for rock bands will be just a bit of the controversial content that Promethean will stream onto school white boards.  

It makes sense for Channel One News to tie their reputation to Promethean’s. That can only help Channel One. 

Simply put, Promethean is providing a high tech way to get advertising into classrooms. Jean-Yves Charlier apparently believes American parents and American educators won’t care.  

I think they will care… once they find out.



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