United And Pepsi -- Billion Dollar Brand Fails

United And Pepsi -- Billion Dollar Brand Fails
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What. Are. They. Thinking?

United and Pepsi have just stupidly lost billions of dollars in brand equity ― not to mention real dollar sales. United by dragging a passenger off a flight, because the flight was oversold; and Pepsi for the colossally ill-conceived commercial starring Kendall Jenner as peace maker between protesters/police.

How is this possible? Ask any CEO to list their top priorities for a given year and ‘branding’ will sit among the top 10. Companies spend millions and millions of dollars in advertising, public relations, branding, corporate communications etc. And it all can be lost in a flash.

We’ve been seeing incredibly careless treatment (or lack thereof) of well known brands lately. Wells Fargo for fake consumer accounts. Alaska Airlines for killing off the Virgin brand and brand values ― on and on.

Ugh. Make it stop!

Don’t these CEOs realize they are literally throwing money away when their brands take a hit like this? Or are corporate decision makers now so arrogant and tone-deaf that they actually believe the market will come around eventually and all will be forgiven?

Everyone thought social media would be the culprit for damaging brand equity. And it’s true, social has given brands a run for their money. Consumers have fought back tooth and nail in many cases to let brands know what they think.

But no, it looks like it’s just plain-old bad management decisions and short-sighted goals are the real culprit. Add that to the fake news dust-up and it certainly seems like everything we rely on is falling apart.

Actually, no. This is an opportunity for other brands to shine. Step into the limelight as the tarnished brands lick their wounds on the sidelines. Insist on creating and delivering brand value. Deliver excellent brand experience as well as a good and fair product or service.

Your brand fans will appreciate it and reward you accordingly. It doesn’t have to be this way... really.

Beverly is the author of the best selling book The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing. She also teaches the Global Business of Sports & Entertainment at UCLA Anderson School of Management and is a thought leader in IoT, Big Data and Digital Media trends.

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