SimpliFlying releases The Answer in response to “United Breaks Guitars” by Dave Carroll, the de-facto CMO of United Airlines

We all know United Airlines broke Dave Carroll’s guitar, and got caught stunned like a rabbit in headlights, when the video became a hit. But worry not, SimpliFlying has The Answer to United’s troubles. This song provides United Airlines with 10 solutions to dealing with this “PR mess” in a fun, innovative way. And in turn, engaging its passengers too.

For the vocally inclined, lyrics are included in the video. Enjoy the song, and the video. To have even more fun, try counting the number of unique planes seen in the video, and state your answer in the comments. The backstory follows.

The Backstory

When Dave Carroll came out with his first United Breaks Guitars video, I wrote an article that explained why Dave has become the de-facto Chief Marketing Officer of United Airlines.  The article was a huge hit, even getting a mention from the revered Chris Brogan.

After the first song, there was a huge hue and cry in the media about the PR disaster United faced. So when Dave came up with his second song, about his interactions with Ms Irlweg, I decided to give ideas to United (and other airlines) on how they could innovatively handle negative reactions on social media. After all, every reaction online need not be termed as the “worst PR disaster ever!”

I decided to write an article with ten tips for United Airlines. Then thought it would be much more interesting if I came up with a YouTube video response instead – talking about the things United could do to rescue their brand. When I mentioned this to Z, he suggested, why not have a song in response instead? That triggered off a series of events…

From an idea to a music video, in three days!

Wed, 19 Aug, 12.39pm: I call Jamiel Said, a rising star on the Singapore music scene, and a former schoolmate, to check if he’d be willing to help us create the next big thing on YouTube. He agrees. I think I had it easy because Jamiel was still in his sleep =p

Wed, 19 Aug, 8.45pm:I write out the 10 tips for United, and they don’t rhyme at all! After brooding over it for 90 mins, I come up with five verses,  and the chorus, which officially becomes the first song I’ve ever written. And it’s about an airline!

Wed, 19 Aug, 11.20pm: After performing in downtown Singapore, Jamiel heads over to his keyboardist’s place, to come up with a melody for the song. Only musical geniuses like him can do such things in minutes, having barely looked at the lyrics.

Thur, 20 Aug, 11.40am: Jamiel, Z and I huddle together in my living room, trying our best to make the lyrics fit the melody. Bad approach. In the end, Jamiel re-writes the whole chorus, and Z chimes in with his gems to finalize the lyrics and melody, which are in sync. I realize that one pro, and two amatuers make a good team =)

Thur, 20 Aug, 1.20pm: After a well deserved lunch, Jamiel pulls out all of his recording equipment (I was thrilled to see so many musical gadgets for the first time in my life!), sets up his mini-studio and starts recording on his Macbook Pro. I forget to turn off the home phone ringer, and face the consequences.

Thur, 20 Aug, 6.10pm: After over six hours of recording and re-recording, we have what sounds like a song. And the melody is stuck in my head (de de de de dee deeee de de…). We decide to call it a day, but Jamiel goes home and fine-tunes the song late into the night.

Thur, 20 Aug, 7.00pm: I start thinking  about the music video and realize that we’d surely need a non-Asian looking Ms Irlweg. I start calling up all of my “ang-moh” lady friends, hoping to get someone to agree for a shoot the very next day, during office hours, on a beach! Uphill battle, I know… but I get rescued by Isabelle, a dear friend of a dear Swiss friend. Phew!

Fri, 21 Aug, 11.00am: Just before I head to pick up Jamiel and Isabelle and go to the beach, I pen down my thoughts on what the different should scenes look like. After getting lost a little, we all reach Changi Beach, which is just behind the runway in Singapore. We’re in luck, as the big birds are landing over the beach!

Fri, 21 Aug, 2.10pm: We have shot a few scenes for the video. They’ve been very candid, and funny. But some things went wrong. Nobody brought speakers, so we literally sing the song aloud to know which verse it is. The only sheet of printed lyrics flies into the sea while we’re busy shooting a scene. Z risks his life to get it back from the water. It’s all smudged. But we’re all having a ball of time. Just then, we realize that a cop has fined Z for not topping up the parking coupons in his brand new sports car! Remember Murphy’s law? I run to drive mine off, before the cop reaches my car!

Fri, 21 Aug, 3.50pm: We have lunch and head back to our homes. I fire up my Macbook and start going through 3gb of footage we shot. I have no clue how I’m going to fit all this on the song, and make it look seamless.

Fri, 21 Aug, 11.45pm: After seven hours of non-stop editing and tinkering, I’m ready to export the HD music video file, quite satisfied with my effort. I love Apple!

Fri, 22 Aug, 12.35am: Jamiel comes over to my place so that I can transfer the 400mb file to him, and we go through it together. We’re happy! And decide to launch the video on Mon, 24 Aug. By now, all that’s in our heads is the tune… (de de de de dee deeee de de…)

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process. So, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

The Answer – Full Lyrics

What did you get when you broke his guitar?
5 million views and a YouTube star
You might think that it’s a disaster
But don’t you worry this song’s answer

Every YouTube video by a passenger,
They may not be trouble’s messenger
How you may wonder,
by accepting your own blunder
How you may wonder,
SimpliFlying has the answer

When you say sorry,
Please say it sincerely,
If you don’t mean it
Don’t you ever say it
So you may wonder,
Whats the best way to approach it?
Let me answer
By listening to your passengers

What did you get when you broke his guitar?
5 million views and a YouTube star
You might think that it’s a disaster
But don’t you worry this song’s answer

Don’t ignore the people who comment on this video
They care about you too, United, don’t you know…
Go and Ask them… what you could have done better
Embrace them,
Love them
And they’ll love you back

So, listen carefully
There will be lots of feedback
Invite them to your Facebook
Where you can engage them back
So don’t just stand there,
And look as if you care
So don’t just stand there.
Cuz it’s not really fair

What did you get when you broke his guitar?
5 million views and a YouTube star
You might think that it’s a disaster
But don’t you worry this song’s answer

So, put up all your training videos on youtube
Let us see what you’ve done, how it’s been improved
Don’t paste “fragile”
Have stickers with Dave’s face instead
And they will smile
One more guitar saved again

Don’t be so boring
Lighten up, won’t you?
Your employees… can have fun with this too
Ms. Irlweg… get featured in Dave’s video
Ms. Irlweg…

What did you get when you broke his guitar?
5 million views and a YouTube star
You might think that it’s a disaster
But don’t you worry this song’s answer

De de de de dee deee de de, de de de de deee dee de…

Did you enjoy the song? Do you think United Airlines will get it? How can other airlines avoid the same type of embarrassment? Let’s discuss in the comments or over on Twitter (@simpliflying)

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Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is the Founder and CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s largest aviation marketing firms working with over 85 aviation clients in the last ten years. Nigam is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior executives globally, from Chile to China. Nigam’s impassioned and honest perspectives on airline marketing have found their way to over 100 leading media outlets, including the BBC, CNBC, Reuters and Bloomberg, and into leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He writes a dedicated monthly column in Flight’s Airline Business, challenging the typical assumptions about airline marketing. His new book on airline marketing, SOAR, is an Amazon bestseller that’s shaking up the industry and inspiring other industries to learn from the best airlines. Born in India, raised in Singapore, he now lives with his wife and two young daughters in Toronto.
Shashank Nigam
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Showing 15 comments
  • oussama
    Reply

    Poor Ms.Irlweg, I suppose she did what she was trained to do follow procedures and policy. The problem with big organisations is no empowerment of the front line staff. What I could not understand is the phrase “outside ….. the baggage policy”, well you took it from me so I the poor passenger is lead to believe that this is within your policy. If the passenger is informed and given an alternative such as additional insurance then the outcome might be different.

  • Ronald Kuhlmann
    Reply

    I was intrigued by the responses that appeared on the site. One person was doing laundry and liked the song. Another liked seeing the planes on approach and another enjoyed the backstory of the recording. None of the comments really dealt with the question nor provoked any public response from United. Until all of these clever tools stop being more important than the message, and distracting in their own right, , they will be used but ineffective in promoting real change.

    The original YouTube release got traction because it spoke to the degree to which we all at times feel powerless in situations where others ignore us. It could have been about computers and software, job frustrations or any one of a million circumstances in which we are individually outgunned–and now as individuals we have tools to fight back.

    The bottom line at this point is that United and virtually all the other legacy carriers have cut to the bone and the idea that they will open a department to deal with Tweets while Rome burns is unlikely.

  • Donald Thompson
    Reply

    It is also a comment on terrible management practices.

  • Darina Pinaire
    Reply

    Very cute – I enjoyed it.

  • Jeffrey Cole
    Reply

    After five million hits on the video, I think the horse is long gone. In fact, I think the horse is married and has children now. United muffed this one big time. It was too late to help the now.

  • Karen Kefauver
    Reply

    Nice job! I enjoyed reading how you made the video and was glad the lyrics were also posted. Creative response!

  • staffing1
    Reply

    Great advice, I would simply add, it is important to keep things simple.
    Great List!
    http://www.staffingpower.com

  • staffing1
    Reply

    Great advice, I would simply add, it is important to keep things simple.
    Great List!
    http://www.staffingpower.com

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