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Technology "and Stuff"

Kudo’s to General Motors for doing the right thing for what could have been a disastrous moment for their Chevrolet brand. After the San Francisco Giants won baseball’s World Series last month, Regional Zone Manager Rikk Wilde was on hand to present the latest Chevrolet truck to MVP winner Madison Bumgarner. It was obvious that Mr. Wilde was either not prepared for his speech or that the magnitude of the number of eyeballs on him at one time took him by surprise because he really messed up! It was so shocking that someone called to handle such an important presentation for this company did not have his “game on.” Personally, it was an incredibly painful thing to watch. You can see the clip in the video on the right.

Technology and Stuff in USA Today AdvertisementThe next morning, the story of his speech received higher billing with the press than the announcement of the Giant’s win! Not only that, but when I read the USA Today newspaper, I found a full-page advertisement for the truck with the header, “Technology and Stuff.” I’m sure the marketing team for the brand scurried after his presentation to figure out how to offset his mistake. The ad was a brilliant play and I commend the leader of their product line for approving the decision. Most managers wouldn’t approve it for fear of “looking stupid,” but instead they leveraged it. The ad helped the incident become a “human” event and probably pulled even more people into feeling good about the Chevrolet brand.

So what have we learned? Consider these two things:

1. Preparation is key. Not only does the speaker have to be well practiced and prepared, but pick the speaker who is right for the audience. This is brand representation, and not only does the content of the speech need to support the personality of your brand, but also the person standing in front of the audience (whether your audience is two people or tens of thousands of people) needs to be right.

2. Be on the offense when something bad happens. Most companies with a challenge like this point to the speaker as if he/she was the problem, but instead GM owned it and made light of it. Media, customers, and competitors… they all come after you when you are not being forthright, so own your mistakes, apologize, and move forward. It will give you and your company a stronger brand presence.

One last comment… I’m thinking the stock price and sales revenue for Chevy will go up. What do you think?

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