Thursday, July 16, 2009

Timmins' Branding Terrorists

Don and Dave are now the second most famous act the world has ever known to hail from Timmins, Ontario.

It has taken a while - ten years or more - but, the pop-folk duo that started singing together in college has finally dropped comedian Derek Edwards into the #3 position on the revered "All-Time Timmins" list.

Don and Dave have paid their dues. These two otherwise ordinary volunteer firefighters have racked up an impressive stack of recordings and performed internationally to rave reviews, but this Halifax-based team that goes by the moniker "Sons of Maxwell" are now on the verge of becoming household names in more living rooms they can even imagine.

For over a decade, Don and Dave Carroll have toiled in relative obscurity, aside, of course, from their annual Christmas concert, each December back in that star-making town called Timmins.

Until now.

This song about one of the all-time great examples of brand disconnect has generated more than 3 million YouTube hits so far. And while the United Airlines brand takes a massive hit, fame and fortune for Dave and his band is about to skyrocket even further as mainstream media jumps all over this story:

Here is more on how the story went down as described by Dave Carroll on his MySpace page.

"In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss.

So after nine months it came down to a series of emails with Ms. Irlweg and, despite her refusal to introduce me to her supervisor, our conversations ended with her saying United would not be taking any responsibility for what had happened and that that would be the last email on the matter. My final offer of a settlement of $1200 in flight vouchers, to cover my salvage costs repairing the Taylor, was rejected.

At that moment it occurred to me that I had been fighting a losing battle all this time and that fighting over this at all was a waste of time. The system is designed to frustrate affected customers into giving up their claims and United is very good at it. However I realized then that as a songwriter and traveling musician I wasn’t without options. In my final reply to Ms. Irlweg I told her that I would be writing three songs about United Airlines and my experience in the whole matter. I would then make videos for these songs and offer them for free download online, inviting viewers to vote on their favourite United song. My goal: to get one million hits in one year.

United has demonstrated they know how to keep their airline in the forefront of their customer’s minds and I wanted this project to expand upon that satirically. I’ve been done “being angry” for quite some time and, if anything, I should thank United. They’ve given me a creative outlet that has brought people together from around the world. We had a pile of laughs making the recording and the video while the images are spinning on how to make “United: Song 2” even better than the first. So, thanks United! If my guitar had to be smashed due to extreme negligence I’m glad it was you that did it. Now sit back and enjoy the show".

We have been living in a world for some time now where any "David" with an ounce of guts, determination and creativity can slay any arrogant, bloated, corporate "Goliath" with nothing more than a social media slingshot. In other words, the marketing playing field has never been more level if you have a remarkable story to tell.

From the airline's perspective, Dave Carroll is like a branding terrorist, destroying millions of dollars in marketing efforts spent to portray the carrier in a favorable light. Meanwhile, legions of customers see Dave and his mates as branding heroes, standing up for what they feel their band and "brand" stands for.

Have you taken time to grasp the implications this "Sons of Maxwell" story has for your brand?

Do you have any idea about the power of the stones you may be carrying?

Or ones that may be aimed your way?

"It's important to give it all you have while you have the chance"

1 comment:

Mark L. Fox said...

Gair, of the most insightful posts I have ever seen.