United breaks guitars, hearts, and subsequently, their reputation


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United Breaks Guitars
 Between the recent high-profile plane crashes and the rapidly rising cost of air travel, it hasn’t exactly been a great year PR-wise for the aviation industry.

And now there’s this.

The short version of the story: Dave Carroll and his band took a United Airlines flight to Chicago for a gig and upon landing, witnessed United employees throwing their instruments carelessly around the tarmac while unloading baggage. Carroll’s $3500 Taylor guitar sustained an estimated $1200 in damages, and he spent the next year attempting to bring the matter to United’s attention, an effort that was met with little sympathy by the airline giant who admitted fault but offered no remorse or compensation for the error.

Feeling frustrated and slighted, Carroll turned to his music and ultimately, the online community by creating a song and accompanying video called ‘United Breaks Guitars’?. The music video, which lyrically details Carroll’s plight and offers a visual re-enactment, cleverly takes aim at United’s poor customer service practices. Promoting it first through an entry on his blog, Carroll’s video resonated with consumers and has received over a 1.3 million hits on YouTube since he posted it on YouTube this past Tuesday.

As if that weren’t enough of a viral nightmare for United, Carroll’s story has become a media sensation, appearing in mainstream outlets like CNN, FOX radio, USA Today, CBS news, and several others. In the 36 hours since he joined Twitter, Carroll has gained over nearly 1,000 followers, and his Facebook fan page multiplies by the minute.

And why is the video such a hit? Because to some degree, it’s a song we’re all familiar with. Just this morning Carroll’s clip was shown on ‘Good Morning America’?, prompting Robin Roberts into a tangent about the time her luggage was mishandled, causing a tear in her suitcase that displayed her underwear on the bag carousel.

A public viewing of your undies at baggage claim? Embarrassing. But while most of us take the traditional WOM approach to airing our grievances (bitch to three friends, vow never to take that airline again, and possibly calling said airline to complain), Dave Carroll boldly turned the tables by putting United’s dirty laundry on display instead. Whose face is red now?

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