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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

UNITED AIRLINES: New Advertising Storyboards

Recent United Airlines ad offering friendly service...
Just a few days ago, I wrote that Pepsi should have called the Media Guy before their ill-conceived Kendall Jenner ad launched. Apparently all that was needed was for another major brand to screw up royally in real time to have them breathing a sigh of relief.

In case you missed it, here's the video Pepsi is quietly cheering about:

Before we go any further, you know what I am going to say...right? Yes, you're right, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz should have called the Media Guy. As a matter of fact, Oscar Munoz should have me on his speed dial. When in doubt on your media campaigns or crisis, call the Media Guy.

Instead Mr. Munoz did it his way and made a public relations crisis a complete disaster:

Note to Mr. Munoz: I know you were named PRWeek's U.S. Communicator of the Year, but even the best of us need some help. You know, "it takes a village..." and all. You should know already that you must offer a quick, unreserved apology when there's video out there. Get in front of it and fall on your sword.

Click to view on Twitter.
I joked on Twitter that the bat guy from The Walking Dead going up and down the aisle on a United Airlines flight is the leading storyboard idea for the next big ad campaign for the positive media challenged corporation.

This is not really a laughing matter because 1) not only did someone get hurt (mentally and physically), 3) is a public embarrassment, but now 3) the stock price is down $1.4 billion after the video went viral.

No look at what you did. Instead, you only apologize for "having to re-accommodate ... customers?" Seriously?

You came off callous and uncaring with little self-awareness. But then you doubled down and made it worse. You took pen to paper and wrote a letter to your employees, describing the passenger as "disruptive and belligerent." So glad you let your workforce know that "employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this." You know what happens when you do things like this? Clever consumers start posting these kind of videos:

Rupert Younger, a well known public relations expert (and director of the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation), agrees with me stating  "The apology by the CEO was, at best, lukewarm or, at worst, trying to dismiss the incident," said Younger. "The CEO should make a better, more heartfelt, more meaningful and more personal apology."

And now, besides the stock drop, the internet ablaze and United is struggling to contain fallout from the incident. The top trending topic on Twitter is #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos, with users suggesting slogans such as "not enough seating, prepare for a beating."

So Mr. Munoz, as Pepsi celebrates you for taking the spotlight off them and Air Canada smirks that their #AirCanadaSux hashtags are pushed back a bit, keep in mind that the Media Guy is here with a few tricks up his sleeve. I left you a voice mail...have your secretary ring me, morning, noon or night. If common sense doesn't make you call, try looking at these before you go to bed: