Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maxwell's YouTube Hammer

"Brand is the 'f' word of marketing. People swear by it, no one quite understands its significance and everybody would like to think they do it more often than they do"
MARK Di SOMA, Audacity Group

Dave Carroll has done it again.

Dave and his band Sons of Maxwell became international media sensations two months ago with their music video, "United Breaks Guitars", explaining how United Airlines personnel damaged his Taylor guitar and then refused to take responsibility or ante up for the loss.

Within ten days, the video had 3 million hits on YouTube.

The incident has been a public relations nightmare for United Airlines. The company's share price plunged by 10 per cent four days after the songs release. That translated into a $180 million hit for United's silver-seeking shareholders.

On Tuesday August 5, Dave and his band reconvened near the Station 41 fire department in Waverley NS, to swing a second hammer on United's head.

Soon after the video firestorm, United contacted Carroll and mentioned they may change their customer service policy as a result of the incident and the Mickey Mouse way in which it was dealt with. United also claimed they wanted to use the video as a "training aid".

United Airlines has discovered the hard way that brand strength is equal to the level of performance at each and every customer interaction.

On-line and off.

And brand equity becomes the sum total of what lies in the hearts and minds of every single person that comes into contact with your company.

Brands have become the express checkout for people living life at warp speed. Failure to perform and treat each touchpoint with the utmost care and your brand is left wide open for equally rapid backlash, with social media serving as a slingshot that plays to David's advantage whenever Goliath rears its ugly corporate, bureaucratic head.

Slowly, companies are waking up to the fact their brand is more than products on a shelf or Point-A to Point-B service. More than any factor, brand strength is determined by behavior.

What is it about this story that strikes a chord with you?

Are there lessons from the way United crashed and burned that you can adapt for your brand?

"A brand is a living entity - and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures"


1 comment:

marketing maven said...

"Social media is like teen sex. Everybody wants to do it. No one knows how. When it's finally done, there's surprise it wasn't better." Avinash Kaushik, Anayltics, Evangelist, Google

But I think in the case of Dave Carroll vs United Air, it was done brilliantly. UA was slow to recover and respond and will be a test case for many a marketer. Social media can be like "word of mouth on steroids" if harnessed properly.... Thanks for this post Gair!