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Case: "United breaks guitars"
Dave Caroll versus United Airlines

United Airlines passenger Dave Carroll had his Taylor guitar destroyed by the airline's baggage handlers during a flight a couple of years ago. After a year, during which United repeatedly declined to reimburse him for the damage, he wrote a song with a funny video about the incident and placed it on YouTube.

After 150,000 people had seen the video on YouTube, it appeared on CNN and at that moment United Airlines gave in, apologized, paid for the damage and even claimed to use the case from now on in their customer service trainings.

This case shows clearly how social media channels have empowered the consumer. Companies will have to rethink their customer service strategies, as their customers become more empowered by social media channels, and they will have to be very aware of what people are saying about them online. Any negative experience by customers can turn into a worldwide crisis from now on.

Making up with customers after they have taken action online is not really an option anymore, because any damaging material online will stay there for a long time and is often copied several times. In the case of United Airlines, the video of Dave Caroll has been copied several times and all these versions, including the CNN news flash, can still be seen on YouTube. These videos have been viewed over 10 million times after United settled!

United breaks guitars: the CNN news flash
United breaks guitars: the complete video of the song
Social media





Some of my personal remarks and opinion on books related to social media marketing:

"Socialnomics" How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, by Erik Qualman


"New rules of PR & Marketing" How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, by David Meerman Scott

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