When I used to teach customer service (in a previous life) we used to always say that it took 12 positive experiences to overcome one negative one, thus the typical quantity of roses. If that is the case then Yum Brands will need to figure out how to generate an awful lot of positive experiences to counteract the huge volume of YouTube views of its rat infested restaurant in New York. The video resulted in a sharp drop in its stock price the morning following the post. The post quickly attracted traditional mass media coverage, which has also now been added to the YouTube library. Add to that, the mass media coverage of the new media coverage and Yum is in major recovery mode. This event should act as a wake up call for all companies.
While traditional media companies have been awakened and scared by the rapid emergence of new media, most marketers of products and services have thought that they can approach the new order on their own terms and in their own time. Corporate marketing folks take a while to embrace something that will shake up their daily routine and many outside firms are still trying to figure out how they will make money with it. This weekend’s rat infested video stampede changed all that. The new media wave has quickly gone from a pool into which you can dip your brand’s toe to a tsunami that is getting everything wet. From irate customer rants to well produced spoofs using corporate icons, new media offers a worldwide soapbox for your brand’s biggest fans and detractors. Unfortunately for brands, anger is a stronger motivator than satisfaction.
Having spoken to a number of more traditionally oriented brands in the past few months I have been surprised at how difficult brand and marketing teams are still finding the new media pitch. It is rare these days to find a well known brand that has not inspired some unsanctioned fan or detractor site. A quick search on MySpace, the home for unauthorized soapboxes, will return a multitude of anti pages for fast food brands, celebrities, and all types of brands. This should send a couple of key messages to brands. First, your customer is there. Think that your customer doesn’t use YouTube or MySpace, tell that to the anti-site with thousands of friends or views. Secondly, if you are not managing your brand in the new media space then someone else. So enough with the toe dipping, either jump in or get the number of a good florist.