What brands can learn from Brian Williams downfall

mistakesNBC didn’t expect the backlash against Brian Williams but people, via the Internet, attacked Mr Williams “lie” and would not let the matter fade away until NBC was forced to suspend him for 6 months without pay.  Mr Williams mistake was making himself more of a story than the news he reported, but if there is one lesson to be learned, it’s that no matter how popular you think you are a lot of people love to bring down brands and people.

McDonlad’s thought they had a winner with their “show the love campaign” where people often got free meals for showing others they care about them but social media was soon abuzz with horror stories from consumers.  One consumer said she was completely embarrassed by the request and another was told to call and tell her mother that she love her even though her mother had passed away from cancer a year before.  One trade magazine said that McDonald’s is “the brand people love to hate”.


No matter how big your brand is and how well you think you’re entrenched with consumers all it takes is one slip and you can find yourself on the bad side of social media.  Starbuck’s found this out when people started to troll them for not paying their fair share of taxes in England.

We live in a time when consumers have a short fuse.  It comes from hard economic times and the feeling that “we are on our own” as Congress continues to benefit the well connected and special interests.  Brand loyalty does exist, but marketers would be wise to understand that all it takes is one misstep to go from king of the mountain to down in the valley.


The truth is we have to earn the respect and loyalty of consumers every day in everything we do.  That’s why it’s so important to have employees who love what they do versus those who are just “doing a job’.  My guess is that Mr Williams career at NBC is over and his biggest mistake was not in telling a tale, but in thinking his brand could withstand the backlash. The Internet amplifies voices like never before and when a comment about your brand goes viral you may not make it back from the wrath of consumers.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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