Have you seen the excitement that ensues when a child wins a prize? It can be any prize really, but how about if a child wins tickets to a new movie such as the new 3D Disney Movie, G-Force? You would expect the level of that child’s excitement would be pretty high, and if you’re a parent you’re probably rating the excitement even higher imagining your own child’s reaction.
Now, imagine the crash of disappointment that child experiences when they arrive at the theater to be told that the movie theater is full to capacity (a half an hour before the start time) due to the fact that the Advertising/Public Relations agency (Allied Advertising & Public Relations) purposely overbooked the theater to ensure they had a packed theater. Not overbooked by a few tickets, they overbooked by at least a hundred tickets based on the disappointed families left standing in the lobby of the theater.
Those families were outraged. There was no second theater opened up to accommodate the families they overbooked. There were no offers of passes to see another children’s movie showing at the theater. There was no evidence of customer service skills demonstrated by the three people from Allied Advertising what-so-ever, and sadly that ended up tarnishing, damaging, and for those parents of disappointed children, killing three brands: MN Parent Magazine, AMC Theaters, and Disney Pictures.
The sad point is that many companies are often in the dark about how their brand is being handled when it is out of their “direct control.” MN Parent Magazine and Disney Pictures were unaware of Allied Advertising’s practice when contacted. AMC was worse; their onsite management team was apathetic. They could care less that their patrons were affected by Allied’s actions. The AMC manager, claiming she was the “highest authority” I could speak to regarding the Edina, MN location, said that the theater was not “responsible” since Allied Advertising had rented the auditorium for the event.
As a parent, who had brought three children to see the movie G-Force (Who is also a PR practitioner) I was appalled by the actions of Allied Advertising and their practice of intentionally overbooking movie premieres. One would have to wonder if Allied’s practice of this was to boost their numbers for their client, Disney Pictures. Disney Pictures should be concerned then that they are paying for such surreptitious practices and not getting true results for their money being spent. If Disney Pictures is testing or hoping to gain market research insight, then every event carried out by Allied is tainted, and cannot be considered valid data.
One of the Allied Advertising reps did finally offer to pay for myself and the three children to go see any other movie playing that night, but only after I identified myself as someone that worked in PR and after they witnessed/overheard me call a local news station to speak with the assignment desk to report on the events happening and see if they wished to send a reporter. At that point the Reps from Allied Advertising were willing to do just about anything to get me to leave. Of the three other brands associated, only MN Parent magazine has reached out to all of the parents that had received “free tickets” through them and promises to have Allied provide free passes to see G-Force in theaters. AMC and Disney Pictures have yet to respond to complaints submitted via email on their websites.
So who controls your brand once it is out of your hands? Do you have vendors, resellers, distributors, field reps? How are they caretaking your brand? Will they respond with the same level of customer service that you provide to your customers? What are the repercussions if they don’t? How will you know if they are carrying through your brand? Are you set up to monitor your brand once it is out of your control? What is the cost if you don’t? What do you think?