Southwest Airlines in "epic" social media fail with Kevin Smith
If you had been stressing out about how to create your very own social media PR disaster sweat it no more. Southwest Airlines has some helpful tips after it threw ‘Clerks’ and ‘Dogma’ director Kevin Smith off of one of its planes at the weekend for “being too fat”.
That’s your first tip right there: choose a high profile media personality with a cult following on the web, the blogosphere on and on Twitter. Kevin Smith, aka Silent Bob from his six New Jersey based movies (‘Chasing Amy’ is still my favourite), will do nicely.
Smith was flying from Oakland (he’d been to Macworld Expo) to Burbank when he was kicked off of the plane for failing the airline’s armrest test (you have to be able to put both arms down…).
The airline apologised via Twitter (Our apology to @ThatKevinSmith…) and on a blog post but by then it was far too late. It had as the post below states been contacted by a great many people and had been forced to go public.
“Many of you reached out to us via Twitter last night and today regarding a situation a Customer Twittered about that occurred on a Southwest flight. It is not our customary method of Customer Relations to be so public in how we work through these situations, but with so many people involved in the occurrence, you also should be involved in the solution. First and foremost, to Mr. Smith; we would like to echo our Tweets and again offer our heartfelt apologies to you. We are sincerely sorry for your travel experience on Southwest Airlines.”
There are 354 articles coming up on Google News and Smith has been tweeting away heavily to his 1.65 million following.
“Wanna tell me I’m too wide for the sky? Totally cool, but fair warning folks: If you look like me, you may be ejected from Southwest Air,” he wrote on Twitter.
Southwest Airlines in a moment combing bad judgement and bad luck has had its reputation among air passengers generally (and of a particular size more specifically) well and truly trashed.
Smith is taking it to his podcast and talking about it on the Daily Show and his further tweets say it all:
“Sometimes it baffles me how little people think things through. ‘Free publicity!’ = 200 new articles declaring I’m fat. Yay, me. Epic win.”
So true, throwing passengers off of planes and giving them $100 vouchers is not going to win you repeat custom. Worse according to Smith it was not only the PR the airline got wrong.
“But, by their own guidelines, I was not, in fact, 2 Fat 2 Fly: the arm rests went down & I could buckle my seat belt w/o an extender. So…?
“In their ‘apology’ blog, they implied (or flat-out wrote) that I regularly purchase 2 seats. Writing that buttresses their lie: 2 Fat 2 Fly”.
If you look at Smith on film or TV he is big guy but he’s not that big. Certainly he doesn’t look like he needs two seats. But none of that matters. Southwest will have to endure days of this after what looks like an over zealous reaction of staff. It is an “epic fail” that is worth millions to rivals. Why is common sense one of the first casualties of corporate culture?