I always think politicians get the scandals they deserve. Typically, the ones that stick are ones that confirm some flaw that everyone expected. For Clinton, it was being slippery. For Bush, it was being clueless. The same seems true for brands. Now that consumers are super-empowered to fight back using social media channels, they can confirm something that's already out there. The Comcast technician falling asleep on the couch fit with many people's experience with the cable company. Jeff Jarvis' Dell Hell dovetailed nicely with a years long decline in service and quality. Even Domino's fiasco, I think, points to lingering suspicions over the quality of fast food places.
The flipside of all these tools and channels allowing for the cheap, easy spread of brand messages is they can just as easily be used against brands. Now it's United's turn to get thrown into the stream. What strikes me when flying legacy airlines is how tired and drab everything, even the people working there. You often don't really feel like a customer handing over hundreds of dollars but at the mercy of an enormous bureaucracy. That's what Dave Carroll has captured with his music video detailing how the airline broke his guitar and then refused to make amends. Since it was posted yesterday, Carroll's video has gone over 120,000 views and attracted 1,000 comments from people echoing his experience. Excuse the pun, but he struck a chord. It's easy to feel some amount of sympathy for brand blindsided by things like this, but they're pretty much reaping what they've sown over many years of failing to live up to their brand promises.