Six months ago Honda decided it would get social. Their new Crosstour design was to debut exclusively on a Facebook page. They put in product features, photos, and design differences from competitors hoping to open up their world to social media users.
Just as fast as the page was uploaded, the criticisms about the design of the crosstour and the price tag avalanched. Time, money and energy that were invested into this car design were quickly becoming time, money and energy to salvage their reputation.
In a Columbus Dispatch article the execs of Honda USA talk candidly and openly about how this debut went wrong. Dan Gearino, the journalist of this story, summarizes “The two campaigns (Ford’s Fiesta subcompact debut) show some of the opportunities and pitfalls for big companies when they make the public part of the marketing” (Gearino, D1).
The news here is not that a new product seemingly failed upon debut. The news is what this journalist is hitting upon what the business world views the consumer as–a roadblock to making sales. All though Honda and other fortune 500 companies may have not realized it, the consumer has always been a part of marketing efforts.
In a pre-digital world, this failed design would have affected an inner circle of buyers who would tell their family, friends and co workers “do not buy this car.” Due to the top down communication print and electronic media bring, Honda would never have believed there would be an outcry. They controlled the message.
In today’s world–the consumer has the platform to tell anyone they want. Facebook pages, twitter posts, personal blogs and consumer sites all allow for a conversation between brand and consumer to occur.
How are you opening up to Ms. Jones? Are you allowing for user reviews on your website or just letting the consumer review you somewhere else? Do you talk openly about the under belly of your industry which sometimes affects what you can get done on an everyday basis? The ballgame has changed. It is now a two way. Changing the look of your ad is not going to change your reputation—talking openly about it is.