How the social media explosion is like the Zombie Apocalypse

AMC’s The Walking Dead is a television show which follows County Sheriff Rick Grimes who was shot on duty, went into a coma and woke up weeks later in an empty hospital. He discovers that the world he once knew is gone, ravaged by a virus which causes the dead to walk – and attempt to consume the living.

In the first season – Rick joins a group of survivors and spends the entire season searching for safety – a place where there is a cure for the horror that surrounds them. In the second season, the group thinks they may have found a safe haven, only to learn that there is no where to hide from this horror – and they come to grips with the reality that they must learn to survive in this new and horrifying world.

If you’re thinking that social media hasn’t created a horrifying new world where the old rules not only don’t apply but could destroy you – you are kidding yourself just as the character Hershel was kidding himself on The Walking Dead.

Hershel thought because his farm hasn’t been over run with zombies it he could prevent it from happening. He had protocols in place to protect his farm from the occasional zombie but when a hoard of zombies encroached upon his property – he realized how naive he had been.

Here’s a real life example of how social media turned ugly for Lassonde Industries, the Quebec company that makes Oasis Juice as reported in the National Post

Way back in the year 2004 – when the social media universe was shiny and new – the days BEFORE Twitter and BEFORE Facebook accepted profiles from people without an .edu email address- Deborah Kudzman left her job with an advertising agency and launched her own little company making soap. She named her company Olivia’s Oasis. She chose Olivia because it is her daughter’s name – and she chose Oasis because she wanted to convey the image of indulgent relaxation.

In 2005, Kudzman received a letter demanding that she cease operation, recall her product from stores and turn over any profits she had earned to Lassonde immediately. She thought it was absurd as did her attorney so the little soap company took on the big juice maker in Canadian courts.

As the case crawled through the courts, Lassonde wasn’t exactly in a “social media coma” – they were actively promoting their products via their Facebook page.

In 2010, Superior Court Justice Dionysia Zerbisias issued a ruling determining that the little soap maker had NOT infringed upon the Oasis Juice trademark and added that Lassonde had engaged in “menacing and abusive conduct.” The court ruled that Lassonde owed the little soap company $100,000 to cover legal fees plus an additional $25,000 in punitive damages.

Without missing a beat, Lassonde appealed the decision and on March 30, 2012 an appeal panel overturned the original court’s decision.

When the result became public, the court of public opinion made their collective voice heard via “social media” and suddenly, Lassonde was faced with a MASSIVE public-relations nightmare Public figures with massive Twitter followings announced their boycott of the juice while the Oasis Facebook page became an out of control public forum. Instead of voicing their choice of their favorite flavor – consumers voiced their displeasure with the company’s “bully tactics” for all to see.

The backlash was so fast and so fierce, that Lassonde response was to send a high level executive to meet with Kudzman – on Easter Day by the way- to offer to pay her enormous legal bill.

Trust me – every executive officer at Lassonde Industries right now has an entirely different view of “social media” than they held just two weeks ago. What was once viewed as a source of “free” advertising is probably as frightening as a horde of encroaching zombies.

It’s a new world and new rules apply. What is truly horrifying is how many business owners are still operating like it’s “business as usual” – a.k.a. 2004 or earlier.

Oasis Juice has just discovered the “truth” I’ve been preaching for years – that “branding” is not the choice of colors used in your packaging or the logo that you feature on everything from your business cards to your Facebook page but instead “branding” is what consumers DO to your business. In this case, Oasis Juice’s “brand” is now the big bad business bully picking on the woman selling soap.

In comparison – surviving a zombie apocalypse doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Thanks to the domain name lawyer for a heads up on this story.

Comments

Trackbacks