The Times of London claims that public relations fallout from Dave Carroll’s catchy videos panning United Airlines for breaking his beloved $3500 Taylor guitar and then denying his damage claim may have cost the airline’s shareholders up to $180 million.
The first song, United Breaks Guitars, has now been played 3,515,357 times on YouTube, become a smash hit on iTunes, and has resulted in Carroll’s rather bemused appearance on every major news network in America. Meanwhile, within four days of the song going online, the gathering thunderclouds of bad PR caused United Airlines’ stock price to suffer a mid-flight stall, and it plunged by 10 per cent, costing shareholders $180 million. Which, incidentally, would have bought Carroll more than 51,000 replacement guitars.
United’s stock, which trades below $4 per share, actually rose after the videos came out in early July. The stock only fell after little things like second quarter earnings were released. The stock has since recovered.
Dave Carroll’s videos show the power that a single aggrieved consumer can wield, but we would be very surprised if they had any impact on United’s stock—though wouldn’t it be great if they did?