We recently met with a prospective client who asked if we could act as his media spokesperson. Sure we can, but we suggested that we train him to be his own well-prepared spokesperson. He said, “You see that guy give Bumgarner the Chevy at the World Series? That would be me on a good day.”
Yes, we all saw it – the World Series blunder where Rikk Wilde gave Madison Bumgarner keys to a new Chevy Colorado. It was one of the most awkward live television moments in history. Sweat running down his face, and drowning on air, with notes on a Post-it, Wilde presented the keys, saying things like, “It has technology and stuff.”
General Motors could have had its spokesperson make the presentation. Why Rikk Wilde? Because Wilde was a regular guy and relatable to the company’s target audience.
Social media blew up, sharing laughs about Wilde’s presentation. We often find that many clients are afraid of social media’s transparency for scenarios exactly like this one. Social media can be too unpredictable and out of their control.
GM played it perfectly. By 12:30 a.m., less than an hour after the event, the company participated in what had become a trending topic on Twitter.
GM’s first tweet: “Truck yeah the 2015 #ChevyColorado has awesome #TechnologyAndStuff! You know you want a truck.”
Hours later, GM’s spokesperson tweeted that Wilde was on message, saying “The truck does have technology and stuff.” Then, GM used the national conversation to tell its audience about the truck’s offerings.
At the same time, GM quickly added the words “technology and stuff” to its online and television ads. In addition, the company purchased the keywords “Chevy guy” and “technology and stuff” so when people Googled the event to have a laugh, GM’s site would be at the top of the search page.
GM’s “technology and stuff” television spots aired during Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Kimmel and other shows that would poke fun at the “Chevy guy.” The motor company took out full-page ads in USA Today, The New York Times and daily papers in San Francisco and Kansas City.
GM followed the golden rules of social media:
- Be prepared, but more than that, be responsive to what really happens. Empower your social media team to make quick decisions and remain responsive.
- Don’t take your brand too seriously – be authentic and relatable.
- Remember, in any communication, you have the opportunity to bring the conversation back to your key messages and mission.
- Then, see it through. Watch it carefully until it’s over.
Estimates reflect that the “gaffe” generated more than $5 million in free public relations for GM. Its website traffic went through the roof. There’s an opportunity to make hay if you have the national spotlight turned to your brand – even for three minutes – even over a gaffe. It’s the ultimate #lemons2lemonade moment.
— Shawna Samuel, Senior Vice President/Account Group Director