SENSATION TITLE: YouTube Complain Song cost United Airlines $180 Million.

United Breaks Guitar

CAUSE: Canadian musician Dave Carroll, travelling to Nebraska in the spring 2008 for a week tour, witnessed his Taylor guitar worth $3500 was thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. Carroll then sought to have the airline reimburse for his severely damaged guitar him but United refused to compensate him.

EFFECT: Carroll decided to write three songs and videos about United Airlines and, his experience with United Airlines and uploaded it in the You tube. The video song titled “United Breaks Guitar” and remarkably in just ten days, the YouTube video registered nearly four million hits.

DAMAGE:  Due to bad PR caused United Airlines share price dropping by 10% and costing share holders a reported $180 million within four days of the song going online. This price is equivalent to 51,000 replacement guitars for Carroll.


  • This was one of the innovative ideas, using social media as a powerful tool for reputation management and influencing public giving chance to unhappy customer the power to share their story with millions of people online. This proved that social media gave voice and power to “public”
  • Also, customer service is most critical part of social media marketing
  • Dave did not use any governmental authorities and getting into filing cases, indulge in lawyers and, did not take any headaches but just used his music and songs through social media resources.
  • This incident have companies have given branding opportunities:
  1. Acknowledge it happened and that you were wrong.
  2. Respond to Dave directly using Dave’s way.
  3. Send an email to all your consumers on your mailing list.
  4. Create a campaign asking every user to create their own YouTube music.
  5. Hire Dave Carroll to produce a commercial.

One comment

  1. If this was a customized work… Excellent one..

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