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Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Morning Maniac Music ...


Do the math.

You are a chief marketing exec for United Airlines and you are facing very tough times. A customer, who happened to be a young musician who flew your airline (to Nebraska, via a one-stop in Chi-town, none the less), placed a claim for damage to his $3,500 Taylor guitar and he persistently fought with your airline's customer service department for a fair reimbursement of said guitar.

No big deal right?

Well, turn the coin on its other side.

You are the same United exec/marketing guy and someone offers you some 2.8 direct connections to your product for a mere $3,500 in cash or trade. The connections are so strong that they might impact the 'connectee' in the most important decision an airline faces on a day-to-day basis and that is the decision by a customer/consumer, "whether they would ever fly your airline again or not?"

As the story goes on to prove, United denied the claim and took the negative route towards a TOTAL PR disaster of epic proportions, all because of the denied claim for a $3,500 guitar and the power of social marketing via YouTube.

To further explain, here is an item that Gibson Guitar posted on their wildly popular online site and PLEASE be sure to view the "Monday Morning Maniac" music song below:


By Gibson's Russell Hall

A damaged guitar, an unrepentant airline, and a timely YouTube video (see below). Those ingredients have yielded the sort of attention money can’t buy for country rocker Dave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell.

As reported by, just five days after Carroll posted a YouTube video for his song “United Breaks Guitars,” he and Sons of Maxwell were deluged with requests for the track at a Friday night show in Arichat, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

“Everybody was calling for that song the minute we hit the stage,” said Carroll, who along with Sons of Maxwell performed the song live for the very first time. “It was unbelievable, 1,500 people raising their hands in the air to the ‘united breaks guitars’ tag line in the chorus.”

The video, which chronicles Carroll’s unsuccessful attempt to get compensation from United Airlines for damage inflicted on his $3,500 Taylor guitar, has received approximately 2.8 million views at last count. International media attention has been intense, fueled in large part by a clip featured on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

Carroll’s email account has been flooded with people sharing commiserating stories, and his Web site has been deluged with more than 50,000 hits. Other airlines have offered free trips (presumably for publicity), and Bob Taylor at Taylor Guitars has telephoned Carroll with an offer of two new guitars and props for a second video.

Last Friday, Carroll spoke yet again with a United Airlines customer service representative who offered $1,200 to cover the repair, plus a matching amount in flight vouchers. Already, however, Carroll has penned a second song (with an accompanying video) about a certain Ms. Irlweg, the “unflappable” customer service employee who proclaimed the matter “closed” last December.

In response, Carroll told United it would please him more if the company “could find somebody who was down on their luck or needed flights or the money and surprise them with a gift to raise their spirits and to try to turn the tide on what was happening here between the two of us.”

Yet a third song is in the works, a track that purportedly will detail the outcome of the saga. Meanwhile, Carroll continues to enjoy the bonanza of free advertising.

“The thing that I like most about this is that this song is quirky and fun,” he told Rolling Stone, “but I’m getting all this attention now from people saying, ‘I appreciate what you did with the video but I really like Sons of Maxwell and what you did solo and I’m buying your CDs now.’”

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