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Case Study
- 5th July, 2014
Presented By Ronak Mehta

The Incident
Time - March 2008
Who - Dave Carroll, a musician from Halifax, NS and his

band, the Sons of Maxwell , traveled from Halifax to

Nebraska via OHare airport in Chicago.
What happened on the journey?

Carroll claimed that his guitar was severely damaged by

United Airlines baggage handlers at OHare.

In Carrolls own words, what happened was as

In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska
for a one week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown
by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later
that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didnt deny the
experience occurred but for nine months the various people I
communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage
on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do
nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person
to finally say no to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and
produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and
make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world.

And then, United Breaks Guitars

Video 1 (July, 2009)

Video 2

Video 3


And it went viral

After Effects.
The song hit number one on the iTunes Music Store in the week following its release. Its instant success and

Uniteds embarrassment were widely reported in the media.

A company spokesman called the video excellent and Rob Bradford, United's Managing Director of Customer

Solutions, telephoned Carroll to apologize and to ask if the carrier could use the video internally for training: the
company claimed that it hoped to learn from the incident and change it customer service policy. United offered
Carroll $1,200 in flight vouchers, which he declined, suggesting that the airline give the money to charity.
Ultimately, United donated $3,000 to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz as a gesture of goodwill.

The UK Daily(Mail claimed that United lost 10% of its share value, or $180 million, as a result of the adxi. The

causality of this loss was hotly disputed on the web.

Taylor Guitars issued a video response to the story:

Bob Taylor, owner of Taylor Guitars, immediately offered Carroll two guitars and other props for his second video.

In December 2009, Time magazine named United Breaks Guitars #7 on their list of the Top 10 Viral Videos of

2009. Following the incident, Carroll was in great demand as a musician and a speaker on customer service. His
website (http://www.davecarrollmusic.com/) offered for sale a Dave Carroll Travellers Edition hardshell guitar
case by Calton.

So a song cost United Airlines about $180 million. Which,

incidentally, would have bought Carroll more than 51,000

replacement guitars.

Questions that arise..

1. Why did Carrolls videos garner so much attention?

2. What options did United have once the videos had been
launched? What were the advantages and disadvantages of
each option? How well did United handle the situation?
3. Could United have anticipated this situation, and if so,
what could it have done to minimize the damage to its
4. What suggestions do you have for brands in a world in
which customers may communicate about their brands? Are
there opportunities for brands in this situation?

Their Mistake & What should they have done..

Back in 2009, all posts were removed and their wall was

wiped clean despite it being an unofficial page of United

Airlines. The unofficial page in Facebook had around 9000
fans on it.
If only had United Airlines taken 5 minutes to build an FB

page, they could have interacted with their fans and reduced
the impact of this crisis.
This failure to interact with viewers, fans and flyers only

aggravated the situation. Also note the online United Airlines

press room was silent on the issue, thus losing another
opportunity to appease the growing online anger.

Lets examine what these brands could have done to

reduce the amount of flak they were exposed to.
DO: A brands first step when faced with an online crisis should always be an

immediate response. Diffusing the situation early can keep it from getting out
of control and into mainstream media. Within nine months, United could
have responded to Dave and addressed his complaint amicably.
DO: After responding to the problem directly, the brand should have

addressed it through all available channels.

Do Not: Dont assume that because the situation is happening due to an
action on one network, that it isnt being discussed elsewhere on the web.
Negative content is prone to Virality.
User generated content is going to be powerful. So, keep an eye on it. The

consumer no longer thrives on press releases for information about brands.

At least 88% of consumers rely on WOM, and marketers and agencies are

not the only ones who can develop and execute effective messaging, as the
example shown in this study.

What is this Case Study About?

So how do we tackle this online beast?

Somebody out there must be talking about your brand at

any given point of time..

The point is - are they talking good or bad?
Today, with the proliferation of networking sites, forums,

blogs, chat rooms etc, opinions are easily shared the buzz
builds and spreads rapidly.

In such a scenario, where your brand is known to people

who do not even use your products, and do not even

belong to your Target Group, you need to ensure that your
brand is well projected in terms of its reputation.
So how can you actually protect your brand? Amidst all

the noise online, how can you even know what people are
saying about your brand?

What is ORM?

Managing your reputation online helps you position your

brand, which means ORM today is needed more than


Benefits of ORM

Tools for ORM !

Tools for Monitoring..

Moral of the Story


Manipal Global Digital Marketing Certification Course

ORM Module.