If you break something, you fix it. If only United Airlines would have had this moral policy when they broke Dave Carroll’s Taylor guitar, they wouldn’t have suffered. But they did. Oh, they did.
Because creative people aren’t like ordinary people. They don’t fight back with legal action that huge and rich organizations can defend themselves against. Instead, they fight back with emotional triggers, often using the deadliest of them all – humor.
In Dave Carroll’s case, the attack took the form of a song called United Breaks Guitar’s, and a corresponding video on YouTube. The video has already been seen by millions of viewers, and has gained plenty of coverage in different mainstream media and on blogs.
When coaching brands about social media, I always talk about “Google Equity”, an equity that is not built overnight, but takes time, effort, and most of all, the inspiration of others. The United Airlines brand, like so many others, has done this poorly, and thus can’t put up much of a fight when something like this happens. Last time somebody completely lost grip on Google was when US Airways Flight 1549 crashed in Hudson River. And now, the United Airlines Breaks Guitars is in the top search results for “United Airlines”.
My top advice for United Airlines and other brands is to put real focus on building Google Equity. Offence is the best defence.
But regardless, since Dave Carroll has promised another two songs and videos on the subject of his broken guitar, I really would think twice before pissing off a creative again.