Were you an attendee at NeoCon 2011? Did your wildest dreams come true when you met Bono thanks to a resilient flooring company (that will go by Company X on this blog)? In what has been dubbed a “PR no-no,” evidence has surfaced that Bono was not, in fact, an attendee of the trade show and that thousands of visitors were duped into thinking they were meeting one of the biggest musicians and activists in the world. It was really this guy.
It may seem like a non-issue but a few things made this publicity stunt an epic fail, rather than just a fun thing to post on your Facebook wall. First, Company X executives and all booth employees operated on a non-disclosure policy. When asked, attendees were assured he was the real deal, there to help them mark a milestone—essentially an outright lie.
Secondly, attendees were furious once word got out that the Bono everyone met at NeoCon 2011 was an imposter. Comments like, “I’ll never buy flooring from that company,” are shooting through cyber space, assuring Company X their efforts actually had an adverse effect on their reputation.
Implications from the loss of consumers’ trust hardly needs to be explained. A happy consumer will relay a positive experience to as many as five of friends; a disgruntled buyer will tell 20. Company X likely has a lot of work ahead to change its image that flipped so suddenly to the dark side.
Aside from the negative image the promotion has projected about Company X, what are the implications it will have on other flooring companies? NeoCon is attended by thousands of architects, designers and specifiers from around the world, all looking for wares from flooring to furniture to wall covering. It is unlikely that overwhelmed and over-walked attendees are able to make a distinction between the company who is actually responsible and the one who had no relation whatsoever.
One commenter was able to laugh about at least, pointing out the irony that the vinyl company which imitates real, natural materials took things a step further with another imitation at the show. Clever? Yes. Do you think she’ll ever buy a foot of flooring from Company X?
I think not.