Friday, May 30, 2014

Even Teflon can break…...

Originally published in the Alaska Highway News May 30, 2014

My hands tremble as I write this, fearing that the universe will somehow get back at me for actually saying this…..out loud….in my column in the newspaper…and now here.

Okay….here goes, “Am I alone in my distaste/dislike/it smells funny reaction to the latest WestJet viral video?”. Titled, “WestJetters read tweets” and a takeoff (that was a pun) from the late night talk show host who has a segment, “Celebrities read mean tweets”.

WestJet might have missed the mark this time.

I realize that WestJet was voted as Alberta’s #1 brand, and was listed in the top100 Canadian Brands and well…....I almost feel unpatriotic writing this. (You see…..I am truly Canadian because I am apologizing before I even begin). I am hoping that by drinking a Tim Horton’s coffee while writing this will reverse any “bad Canadian” karma.

On Monday, I tossed it out into the universe (my Facebook friends) to get a reaction to the video. This is what I said, “I like the direction they were going but question their use of profanity (even though the profanity was bleeped). I think that this is one video that might backfire on them. Unless of course their brand is so solid that it is Teflon and things bounce off (do things bounce off Teflon or slide off?). Just an observation - I would like to know your thoughts”. Immediately after watching it, I felt that they had deviated from their wonderfully crafted brand. They are known for smiles, laughter, jokes and reuniting children with stuffed animals…..that brand is big! that brand is huge! that brand is the envy of many and does not include reading mean tweets.

Some of my friends agreed, others admitted that they enjoyed it. So….I took to the internet to see if there was as much buzz about this video as there was about the Christmas Video or even the April Fools Joke Video. There wasn’t……and I think I know why.

First: not every video is guaranteed to be a home run. WestJet has a wonderful way of engaging with their guests and nine times out of ten, they have tremendous success.

Second: The use of profanity (even though they were reading it and bleeping it). When you see professionals using profanity, we lose respect.

Third: Some of their guests may find this video offensive and be offended that WestJet called out some of their detractors. A sector of the population believes that the customer is always right. Sharing those negative comments might be perceived as disrespectful to the client base they serve. Those individuals showcased in the video might be extremely embarrassed, humiliated.

Fourth: Perhaps a better idea for a video would be showcasing some of the amazing things that happen as a result of using Twitter as well as Westjet does. They could have read tweets that were extraordinary or tweets that were really unusual or funny. Would that have gone “viral”?

So where do we go from here? Obviously the WestJet brand is very solid and a misstep (in my opinion) like this will not hurt their brand in the least. They might have lost some public respect, and in particular, those who had a different opinion of the airline – one that equated them with Disney. That wasn’t a video you could have shared with your children.

As always I am in awe of their ability to master social media and lead the industry in online engagement. I will continue to enjoy their witty videos and twitter responses, but I wonder……..will they do that again?

Okay……I am waiting for the lightening bolt…..I smell smoke….wait! is my hair on fire?

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