United Airlines is suffering an unfolding customer services disaster, courtesy of one unhappy customer whose luggage they failed to take care of. His response? To produce an funny and catchy music video chronicling United’s failings:
(You can see the film on the YouTube site, with its description giving details of the luggage incident, here.)
It’s already been viewed 600,000 times and two further videos are promised.
There’s a lot of talk in the industry about how you measure the impact of social media compared with, for example, traditional advertising. One of the major problems is that it’s a matter of comparing apples and oranges.
You could look at that 600,000 figure (or whatever it reaches) and compare that with the number of people who see TV or print adverts, but that misses the point.
Over the last few years, I’ve briefly seen all sorts of United Airlines adverts flash before my eyes. Though I struggle to remember them, they have had some sort of impact as they’ve left me with a reasonably positive impression of the airline. Not enough to make me seek them out specifically, but enough to make me feel comfortable if I ended up flying them.
But those years of trying to persuade me have now been undermined by the few minutes on YouTube and those few minutes will – courtesy of the tune and the hats – stick in my mind for longer and more clearly than all those adverts. For me, the strapline for United Airlines is now, “United breaks guitars”.
That’s the damage social media can do.
Meanwhile, I’m half hoping that United don’t react so we get to see the other two films too…