Thursday, July 16, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

This is a great example of how to exact revenge on irresponsible companies in the services industry who give you crap service and refuse to acknowledge and be accountable for their mistakes. Ah the power of social media.

United Airlines broke Dave Carrol's US$3,500 Taylor Guitar and refused to compensate him even though he personally witnessed the baggage handlers throwing the guitar cases around during their stopover at Chicago. After almost a year on the phone with United Customer Service staff and being passed around and finally told that his compensation claim was denied, Carrol decided to take matters into his own hands and publish a series of music videos about his experience.

10 days and over 3 million views and United is now feeling the wrath of this excellent social media backlash.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So you want to start an advertising company?

Some inspirational reading for the aspiring internet entreprenuer.

A Brilliant Letter to the Ritz

A friend of mine wrote this letter to the Ritz Singapore. Evidently, a friend of hers made a reservation at the restaurant there on the basis of a lunch promotion but was told her phone reservation was only TENTATIVE and refused to honor it:

I am writing with reference to your current lunch promotion at the Greenhouse Cafe.

About a month ago, I booked a table for four at your restaurant for today, the 14th of July, to celebrate a friend's birthday. Per the terms of your promotion, we were to have enjoyed a 50% discount on the total bill, having booked more than five days ahead.

Upon arrival at the restaurant today, however, I was told that my reservation had not been confirmed, and, as such, Greenhouse would not be able to honor my reservation. After clarifying, it emerged that my initial call to you only counted as a tentative reservation, and I needed to produce a printed email confirmation to get my table and the 50% discount offer.

Please note that at no time during the phone reservation was I asked for my email address, nor did the person taking my reservation explain to me that I was only making a 'tentative reservation'. I explained this to the host on duty that day.

I believe that the proper response would have been an apology and an offer to let us enjoy the promotion anyway. After all, the host was able to trace and retrieve my initial phone reservation. As far as I was concerned, I had more than fulfilled the terms of the promotion, which was to make a reservation at least five days in advance.

Instead, he very kindly explained to me that restaurant policy dictated that the terms of the promotion would not be honored sans printout. No apology was even offered, and certainly nothing even approaching some form of compensation for an error that was no fault of mine, but which ultimately resulted in a complete waste of my time that day. I'm sure you'll agree that you, too, would not have been satisfied with a canned response such as the one I got: that he would 'raise this to management and ensure it doesn't happen again.' Quite frankly it did not matter to me whether it happens again, as I'm not likely to return to see that it doesn't.

I'd like to seek some clarification - I'm not sure what it means to your staff when customers make a reservation over the phone - are all your reservations then 'tentative' reservations? I have never in my life been so indecisive as to have to make only a tentative reservation for lunch; I decide on a lunch date and make a booking only when I am sure I can make it.

There are only two conclusions to be derived from this episode - one, that your staff is clearly lacking the training that befits a hotel of your supposed calibre and that they themselves had not been fully informed of the convoluted terms of your promotion; or two, that your establishment was never very sincere about offering this promotion to your customers in the first place, given that you've obviously made it as difficult as possible for customers to take advantage of this. I'm sure you'll agree with me this is bordering on dishonesty.

(As a marketing professional myself, I'm familiar with the need for terms and conditions on special promotions, but I draw the line at deception and dishonesty)

I have to, however, thank you for providing me with an excellent case study on PR and marketing, which I intend to refer to as an example of what not to do in discussions with my clients. Fortunately, my day was not completely wasted, as I was able to salvage the situation by celebrating my friend's birthday at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, where we had an excellent lunch at the MELT World Cafe. Happily, the service there was excellent.

I'm not sure how, if at all possible, this negative experience at your establishment could be remedied. I am doubtful that I will ever set foot there again, and, I think, neither will the many friends I've told this story to.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another Pacific Coffee Offer

Here's another Pacific Coffee offer. One-for-One on Iced Coffee drinks. Enjoy! *Valid for Hong Kong only.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Goodbye and thanks for all the wonderful memories

The essence of MJ's memorial service came down to 20 poignant powerful seconds: The moment when 11 year old Paris inched up to the microphone and, in a statement no one saw coming, referred to the late pop superstar as "Daddy". I shed a tear when I saw this.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Don't piss off Wall-Mart

This is an old scandal back in 2006/07 but Fast Company did a great editorial about how Julie Roehm is rebranding herself in light of the scandal that toppled her once flourishing marketing career.

Read it here

Monday, July 06, 2009

UA Movie Discount

I spent 2 hours watching Megan Fox get chased by Decepticons yesterday. I'm a huge Transformers fan as a kid but the movie just didn't do it for me. I didn't really like it that much - It was kinda really just ok. However, I've discovered that watching movies in HK is a rather expensive affair. The ticket at UA Causeway Bay cost me HKD81 (about S$16). I could watch two movies back home for that price. Fortunately, someone sent me a UA movie discount coupon good for HKD35 a ticket. Sweet!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Dell has been using social media platforms such as Twitter rather successfully for quite some time as a customer relationship management and communications platform. However, this is (I think) the first time, they are using it from a sales/customer acquisition angle and I think it is a very well thought out and executed social media campaign –

The campaign plays upon the idea of group purchases - where the more people group together to buy something, the lower it drives the per unit purchase price. Not a new concept but Dell makes use of a combination of social media elements (facebook,twitter, referral emails and SMS) to get individuals who do not even know each other but have the intention to purchase similar items together to make the purchase.

This is how it works - 1 user starts by joining a swarm (for a specific featured product) to enjoy a price lower than’s best discounted price. As more and more users join the swarm to buy, the price reduces. The swarm closes after 72 hours or when 15 users have joined (which results in the lowest possible price for the product).

Users can tell others about the swarm through a referral email, facebook, twitter and other social bookmarking tools and follow a particular swarm via email alerts, SMS or Twitter.

Yes, you have the power too

HP has always prided itself as a socially responsible company with a high regard for corporate sustainability. They've launched a new initiative called Power To Change which essentially is a call to everyone to perform the simple act of turning off our computers when we don't use them in the concerted effort to help reduce energy waste, curb carbon emissions and save money. Part of the initiative is this cool little widget that you can download onto your desktop.

The widget is there as a reminder but more importantly, to measure how much energy you save by actually turning it off. It's an interesting social media angle where each individual's widget gets a daily sync with the HP database and it shows how much savings are made by all participating users.

Download yours at