#39 – Massage Envy, Amazon & Walmart face friendly fire, while “Dilly Dilly” to Bud Light & Maisie Williams

#39 – Massage Envy, Amazon & Walmart face friendly fire, while “Dilly Dilly” to Bud Light & Maisie Williams

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Hear ye, hear ye, let it be known that this week we have Reputation Roadkill thricely, and two examples of regal reputation engagement.

Each week, Erin Jones and I take a look at the most interesting reputation management stories, answer your questions, and share valuable ORM tactics. In this week’s episode:

If you have a question you would like us to tackle, please leave a comment below or on my Facebook Page.

Transcript (forgive us for any typos):

Andy Beal:                  Welcome back. We have a pretty good show this week. I know I say that every week, but honestly, stick with me. We’re going to start off with a trifecta of Reputation Roadkill. In fact, we’re not going to discuss the individual stories. We’re going to discuss a bigger picture here, but we’ll put the links on the show notes to the stories.

Amazon had a contract driver defecate on a customer’s driveway. I guess when you got to go, you got to go. Massage Envy is facing more than 180 sexual assault complaints against individual franchises that are under its branch. Then, Walmart had to pull an offensive T-shirt that was offered by one of its vendors. All three of those could make up an entire show, but I think it’s pretty obvious what the individual issues are here, and what you should avoid and what you should fix.

However, the bigger picture that Erin and I want to talk about is when you rely on almost third parties, you’ve got a delivery contractor for Amazon, you’ve got an individual or a couple of individual rogue franchises from Massage Envy. Then you’ve got a third party vendor, but when it’s all reported, when the scandals break, all the public are really seeing are the brands behind those: Amazon, Massage Envy, and Walmart. So, the actions of those contractors and third party vendors are just hurting the main brands, Erin.

Erin Jones:                  They are, and in these three instances, I feel like it’s valid. None of these companies have had any of this be a one-time issue. So, congratulations to the Amazon lady because she actually rendered me speechless, which is pretty difficult to do, but we’re hearing complaints about people all over the place saying, “People are showing up in U-Haul trucks or Home Depot trucks and tossing packages out onto my porch.” We’ve had stuff left at the end of our driveway, which is almost an eighth of a mile away from our front door.

So, I’m seeing this locally, but these are not isolated incidents. Massage Envy, there have been literally hundreds of complaints. This T-shirt company, this is the second large news item I’ve seen from them. Regardless of the fact that they’re not directly employed by these companies, the companies are continuing to pay them and not doing anything about the negative actions. Where does the company become responsible?

Andy Beal:                  Well, I think the company absolutely needs to be help responsible. It’s almost like we’ve not learned from the Dell Hell classic case study, where Dell outsourced customer service. When you outsource any part of your business, you learn the high standards that you set for your own employees, and that oversight and leasing of those standards. You’ve sacrificed that because you’re trying to cut costs, right? If you look at all of these, Amazon is trying to get the packages delivered as cheaply as possible. Massage Envy is trying to expand to as many markets as they can, so they’ve done the franchise route as opposed to building their own stores. Then, Walmart’s trying to get as many products on its website as it can, so it’s opening it up to third party vendors instead of being strict about what products get on there.

All three of them have cut corners. The buck absolutely has to stop with them, and now it’s down to them to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, whether that’s firing that particular delivery firm, closing down those franchises, whatever it is. They’ve actually got to take action here because the public is going to be looking to them to say, “Okay. These are really bad mess-ups that your contractors and affiliates have done here. Is that acceptable to you? Are you going to let that ride or are you going to take decisive action?”

Erin Jones:                  I think decisive action is a really good point here because everything I’m reading from these articles, I keep hearing, “We’re appalled. We’re so sorry. We’re going to do something about this.” Then, three more days, we hear about another allegation or another driver doing something ridiculous. Hopefully, they won’t all go to the lengths that this recent one did, but the T-shirt company, even. This is the second time that they’ve been completely appalled by someone’s actions that went against their policies, so they’re going to go ahead and take the post down. Okay, you need to do a little bit more here because clearly you being appalled is not changing anything.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, and I wonder how much it’s got to do with the fact that these are low-cost companies. Amazon, Walmart, Massage Envy, none of them have the reputation of being a high-quality luxury product or first-class customer service. Although I have to admit, Amazon does a pretty good job if you’re a Prime member, but you’ve really got a race to the bottom here. Massage Envy is popular because it’s cheap massages. It’s a lot cheaper than if you went to somebody that provides a more medical, clinical-type massage. Walmart is just trying to be … Well, I don’t know what they’re trying to be. They’re trying to just make everything as cheap as possible.

So, are we getting what we pay for, right? We, as consumers, are not willing to pay the high prices of small businesses, local businesses. We want it cheaper, faster, delivery, and lower priced products, but are we willing to accept that that means the standards are going to be a lot lower?

But at the same time, though, I mean, I’m going to link to the Massage Envy, but please know that it will make you sick to your stomach when you read about the sexual assault complaints. I’ve never been there. I’m sure there are some fantastic franchise owners that have installed structure and policies in place that are stricter than what Massage Envy Corporate has put in place, and I’m sure there’s some fantastic places you can go to, but generally, reading this, you’ll probably never want to go to a Massage Envy again.

Erin Jones:                  No, I actually canceled my membership after I read that article, and I had been with them for five to six years. Our local franchise owner is fantastic, and I just point blank told her, “I’m sorry. I cannot give my money to a company that condones this kind of behavior.” Sadly, she agreed with me. I’d love to see some of these franchises go off the franchise model and just open regular spas. They may gets some really good traction with local markets. It’s just publicly acknowledging that they’re not going to support this.

Andy Beal:                  No, I agree, and I truly expect we’ll see that. Why wouldn’t we? You’ve got to get out of that contract. Whether you need to hire an attorney or not to break from that franchise agreement, yeah, they need to get out of that.

Alright. Let’s move on to something a little bit more lighthearted, and you could even say a little bit more bud light-hearted. Sorry for the intro, Erin.

Erin Jones:                  Dad joke alert. You know, Budweiser did something this week. We know that they’re a huge massive corporation. They’re clearly aware of that. They, this week, served a local small craft brewery with a Cease and Desist letter, but they did it in style and nobody’s mad about it, so that’s really fun to see. They didn’t just serve … a process server come out and give them their documents. They sent a medieval scroll and a town crier to read the process letter publicly within the brewery.

Andy Beal:                  That’s awesome.

Erin Jones:                  I loved it. Absolutely loved it, and the brewery did too, which was really fun. Modest Brewery had a new IPA out and they called it, Dilly Dilly, which is a phrase that Budweiser’s been using in their commercials and a lot of merchandising lately. Someone at Budweiser got the message, and they very, very creatively told Dilly Dilly to back off.

What was fun is that they used the theme from their Dilly Dilly commercials and extended it to real life. So, I thought that was a really fun way to handle it. They let Modest know that it wasn’t going to work out for them, but then they also said that they created two thrones for them to watch the Super Bowl in Minneapolis with the Budweiser team, which I thought was really neat. Modest is taking it all in stride. They’ve hung the scroll up on the wall behind the bar. This is great publicity for them and they were happy to rename the beer. They’re calling it Coattails, so I thought that was kind of cute.

I really think both brands handled it well. They both handled it with grace and laughed it out, and they were willing to meet in the middle and work it out instead of turning it into a big heated battle.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, and I love one of the lines from the scroll. It says, “Disobedience will be met with additional scrolls, then a formal warning, then finally, a private tour of the pit of misery,” which was absolutely hilarious. In character with the Dilly Dilly campaign. The best thing is that Bud Light … It’s a win-win. They needed to police this trademark that they have for this slogan, but they did it in a way where they don’t look like a big bully trying to shut down a craft brewery, which could have easily gone against them because there’s a lot of people that like to pull for the underdog. Like you said, they softened the blow by offering two thrones, is how they named it, for the Superbowl, and just handled it in a fantastic way where both brands came out on top and didn’t really have to get into a nasty legal battle.

Erin Jones:                  It was great. Now, I would love to see Dairy Queen hop on board here and go after both of them, since they’ve had the corner on the Dilly bar since who knows how long, but yeah, I wish we would see more things like this because I think they handled it fantastically, and it didn’t get ugly, and nobody got nasty. It’s great publicity for a small brewery, especially when Budweiser’s kind of been under the microscope lately for buying up local breweries.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, and someone told me that this is not really the normal tone that Bud Light takes. They are pretty aggressive, like the 800-pound gorilla that tries to police everything and protect their branch, so this was a really good approach. However, definitely more in line with the Bud Light brand, right? I think they did a really good job with that.

I think the lesson here for us is if you look at the video, it wasn’t like they set up a studio. It just happened to be a couple of employees with their cell phones out, capturing it on video. So, you have to assume that your words, your actions are always going to be recorded, screenshoted or whatever it may be, and how will they be perceived by those that see them later, especially those that maybe root for the underdog. I’ve had situations where I’ve had to police a brand, and I’ve done it in a soft way, a lighthearted way, to try to get resolution and it worked, but then I’ve been on the received end of someone that sent me just a Cease and Desist letter out of the gate without actually contacting me first just to say, “Hey, could we work this out?” It ruffled my feathers and I could have easily played the underdog here and instead, I just decided, “Hey, let’s just work this out like normal human beings.”

Whenever you have to police something like this, always try the softer approach first, and always assume that whatever you send, even if you think it’s a private email, it is gonna make it into the public domain and how will that reflect on you?

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. I think the old colloquialism that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar … I think it applies in most areas of life, but always if you could get through to someone without causing those ruffled feathers, I think that that should be the first attempt every time.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, absolutely, and if you throw in two thrones for the Superbowl, it doesn’t hurt either.

Erin Jones:                  Yeah. That probably could’ve softened a whole lot of blows.

Andy Beal:                  Exactly. Alright, speaking of thrones … I’m full of puns, this week. Speaking of thrones-

Erin Jones:                  Hey, that was a good transition.

Andy Beal:                  You liked that? Okay, so Maisie Williams is a star of Game of Thrones and other movies. She, on Twitter, asked her followers for suggestions on where to donate clothes that she no longer needed. I love the fact that she was asking for advice on Twitter just like the rest of us normal people would, where we would ask our friends and family and followers, “Hey, I need some help here. What are your ideas on where I should donate these clothes that I no longer wear?”

The fans loved the interaction. In fact, they couldn’t believe it at first, but they got on board and started giving her lots of ideas as to where she could donate them. Then she closed the loop by thanking them and following up on a lot of those ideas, which must have done wonders for building just that fan and follower loyalty.

Erin Jones:                  I absolutely love this. I also love that when people said, “You know, don’t donate everything. Please let me buy something.” She said, “okay. I’ll sell the nicer pieces and donate that money to charity.” Then, I think she said her more working clothes or something referring to her casual wardrobe, she said she would donate those.

So, I think that it’s really neat, like you said, she took all of those suggestions into consideration. It sounded like she really took the suggestions to heart. It wasn’t just a, “I’m going to put this out there to have a post out today,” kind of thing.

Andy Beal:                  Right, and we can learn a lesson here. Even if you’re tweeting or hosting on behalf of a brand, you can still give yourself a personal voice. You can still make that connection. It doesn’t always have to be this one continual stream of announcements and press releases and links to your latest blog post. Why not engage your audience and built that rapport. Then use this as a means to build greater loyalty and support. If you’re going to make a decision on a product launch or a new service or a new feature, whatever it may be, ask the question, “What’s your recommendation? What would you like to see?”

Then if you can actually implement some of the more popular recommendations, just think how more enamored your fan base is going to be. Your customers are going to be more loyal because you’ve listened to them and they’ve played a part in whatever the decision is.

Erin Jones:                  I completely agree. Two of the things I always tell my clients when they’re going to manage their own social media is, first of all, listen to what people have to say because sometimes they just want to be heard. Second is ask people’s opinions on things. If you want engagement on social media, don’t just tell them what they need to know or what you want them to see. Ask them what they think because we love giving our opinions on social media. You’re almost always going to get feedback when you ask someone what they think about something.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, if you want to see engagement increase across any of your social media channels, just put a question mark at the end of your next post. Ask a question of your audience. People love it. It builds engagement. It builds loyalty. Who knows? You may learn something that you may not have learned if you’d been too afraid to ask, and that might be the tipping point for the next great surge for your company.

Erin Jones:                  Definitely, and if you ask someone’s opinion and they give you feedback that you implement, they have a much stronger connection to your brand than they did before, and that’s going to increase loyalty, as well.

Andy Beal:                  Absolutely. Good point. Alright, we’ll end it on that note. We hope you enjoyed the show. If you have any questions about this week or there’s any stories that you’ve seen or reputation management questions you have for a “friend”, then feel free to ask them over at our Facebook page, which is facebook.com/andybealORM, or just head to andybeal.com, find any of the podcast blog posts, and just leave your question there. We’d love to see your questions or get your feedback.

Erin, as always, enjoyed chatting with you.

Erin Jones:                  Thank you so much. I love being here.

Andy Beal:                  And we appreciate you guys tuning in each week. We hope you’ll join us again next time. Thanks a lot and bye-bye.

ByAndy Beal

Andy Beal is The Original Online Reputation Expert™. A bestselling author of two critically-acclaimed reputation management books, a keynote speaker at dozens of events, and brand consultant experience with thousands of individuals and companies.