United Airlines in trouble

I’m back from vacation, going through my reader, and as I still haven’t gone through it all, this might be repetition for some. Sorry about that.

From what I’ve noticed, United Airlines is in trouble, as they break guitars. Dave Carroll, disgruntled customer, and singer in Sons of Maxwell, spent nine months trying to get compensation for the broken guitar, but finally got a “no”. In his own words:

“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 share them on YouTube, inviting viewers to vote on their favourite United song. My goal: to get one million hits in one year.”

He got his million views very fast. The first video has already gotten more than 4.1 million views.

Chris Houchens from the Shutgun Marketing Blog gives points out that the video stands out from other consumer complaints on facebook, twitter, blogs etc is because it is well done. I agree. It is a professional musician, a catchy tune, professionally produced.

He also stresses that the video really took off once the Consumerist, LA Times, NY Times and other big media featured it. Getting initial spread is key to create momentum and get viral spread.

In addition, I would like to add that there is probably another factor at play. As mentioned in Influentials not as influential, and Context and virality, whether the environment/society is ready or not is key for spreading an idea or trend. I believe there is “dry wood” out there for this “forest fire” to spread. There are a lot of customers to United and other airlines who have experienced similar problems; lost baggage, damaged baggage, delays. The airline industry doesn’t have stellar reputation. I have suffered from this myself on a recent trip, with 7 hours delay both on the way there and back, including lost baggage on the way back!

So, I guess I am part of the “dry wood” helping this fire spread further.

Here it is. Pretty catchy!

Kristofer Mencák has a M.Sc. in Business Administration from Stockholm School of Economics. He is a consultant, author and lecturer on social media, viral marketing and word of mouth. He has also recently been travelling the world teaching the dance kizomba.

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