United Airlines broke the guitar of Dave Carroll of the band Sons of Maxwell, and he wasn’t happy. For a couple of reasons. First, while changing planes in Chicago, he and his band mates watched United’s baggage handlers throwing his guitar. And second, this was a $3,500 Taylor guitar, quite an expensive musical instrument.
And, as suspected, when Dave arrived in Nebraska, he found the guitar’s neck broken. So Dave complained and asked for compensation. Enter the airline albatross of denial, as any of you know if you’ve ever had to file a claim for damaged or lost baggage. You probably can conclude the results: claim denied. And that was the beginning of United’s nightmare… justifiably.
A number of events occurred after that, the most caustic and influential being a song written by Dave in United’s “honor” and performed by the band.
This video already has had almost 5 million (!) viewings. Subsequently, articles about Dave’s plight appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Independent (British). That’s viral social media at work. The power is tremendous!
So what has come of all this. Well, United donated $3,000 to the Thelonius Institute, a charity that supports jazz. Then, Bob Taylor, the guitar’s maker, gave Dave two free Taylor guitars.The video and resulting publicity has put the Sons of Maxwell on the musical map. So Dave came away fairly well.
How did United fare? Apparently, not so well. Within days of this video being published together with a flurry of related articles, United”s stock dropped 10%, costing shareholders about $180 million.
Social Media: a force for the rest of us.