On a bright Sunday morning in November 2011, Luo Yonghao, a popular Chinese blogger and owner of the Lauluo English Training School, stood in front of the Siemens headquarters in Beijing with a throng of protesters.
Wielding sledgehammers, the group proceeded to destroy three refrigerators from the German brand. The reason? Luo and several other individuals, whom he had found via Weibo, a Chinese Twitter equivalent, claimed that the fridges were faulty, and that their calls for investigation into this issue had fallen on deaf ears.
Their grievance was that instead of acknowledging the design flaw (wherein the fridge doors couldn’t be properly closed), apologising and acting to recall the units, the brand’s representatives had done the usual spin doctoring to defend itself.
Wouldn’t it have been wiser for Siemens to admit it made a mistake, and then taken the opportunity to build equity by offering to rectify the flaw?
Why follow in the footsteps of Antennagate and the Vitaminwater fiasco?
Shouldn’t brands today be more wary of their customers, who not only have access to a wealth of information, insight and peer opinion, but aren’t afraid of using the countless tools at their disposal to show their displeasure?
It’s strange to think that, for all their sophistication, the companies of today still sometimes fail to understand that, as cliché as it may sound, honesty still is the best policy.
It’s a choice between owning up to wrongdoing, or being on the receiving end of a destructive crusade led by such relentless individuals as Luo Yonghao.