I love year-end “best of” and “worst of” lists. Here are a few cringe worthy PR situations from 2011. In the spirit of the holidays, this list doesn’t include anything that has to do with lurid sexual allegations, a la Penn State and Anthony Weiner.
Netflix raises fees and changes name (ragan.com, #1): Netflix has certainly seen better days, going from a key focus of Chris Anderson’s 2006 book The Long Tail to the CEO sending an e-mail to all its customers on Sept. 19 of this year that began with “I messed up. I owe you an explanation.” This great article sums up the situation, grading Netflix on a variety of areas (spoiler: 3 Ds and an F). Ouch.
Along the same line of fee increases, Bank of America (ragan.com, #4) came under fire for announcing a $5 monthly debit card fee. Embarrassingly, the other banks they thought would follow suit didn’t. At all.
“Don’t forget Target’s Missoni launch!” says one commenter on the ragan.com article. Good reminder! I was one of the thousands of shoppers to descend on target.com to browse Missoni’s exclusive line of products only to find that the website wasn’t functioning and stuff in-store sold out pretty quickly. And messily. (This salon.com article written by a woman who survived the in-store frenzy is pretty fantastic.)
The Target mishap (or publicity stunt, as it has been called) is an interesting look at traditional advertisement (TV commercials, mostly) creating buzz for something happening online (and in-store) and then the product not living up to the hype. Brings back fond memories of the 2009 KFC and Oprah free chicken coupon debacle. Never underestimate the power of perceived value!
Chrysler dropping the f-bomb in Detroit: a social media rep with an agency handling Chrysler’s Twitter account accidentally tweeted from Chrysler’s account: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive.” Yikes. When you manage a personal Twitter account plus at least one professional one, mistakes can happen. But why would someone who works on behalf of Chrysler even tweet that from her/his personal account? Not classy at all.
Check out other 2011 PR disaster lists from AdAge, Startupsmart, Inc.com, and Huff Post.