Here’s what “fail fast” looks like

Earlier this year, Chrysler made a bold statement to the world, airing the Imported From Detroit commercial during Super Bowl XLV in February 2011. The ad created buzz in the ad world, political circles, and the entertainment industry, while helping drive a 191% increase in month-over-month sales of the Chrysler 200, the car featured in the ad. Unless you hate America, it's hard not to feel proud of the United States and one of its core but beaten down industries after watching the full two-minute spot.

A month later, this tweet publishes one morning from Chrysler's official Twitter account:

@ChryslerAutos errant tweet

Auto blog Jalopnik broke the story and here's what transpired in rapid succession:

The root cause here might have been technology failure, user error, lack of process (publishing) control, and/or temporary lapse of cultural connection. 

Within the 48 hours, an iconic brand gets a black eye, an agency loses a major account, and a person gets fired: nothing good for those directly involved. So where's all the praise for failing fast?

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  1. Peter: If I’m reading this right, you’re asking why didn’t the media/public praise Chrysler for failing fast? Or why didn’t Chrysler praise the agency for failing fast?

    Either way, it was definitely Chrysler’s reaction that dashed any chance of praise. It was an opportunity lost. When this tweet was, uh, misfired, they could have reacted and shown there are humans behind the account. Instead they pulled back.

    Social media is a humanizing platform, yes? Chrysler’s reaction made it obvious that they weren’t really embracing social media. Or didn’t ever ask the question: “what if…”

    Red Cross made a similar mistake, less the f-bomb. Now they’re a case study of failing fast and the praise that can come in doing so…based entirely on how you react to the fail.

    OK, let me know if I misinterpreted your question. I’m human, it happens 😉

  2. Kevin – to your initial question, it’s the former, why isn’t Chrysler’s agency getting kudos for failing fast.

    I’m not sure the brand has much to be at fault for in this situation – an agency hired as trusted advisor must perform its job competently. It’s a shame that the agency didn’t apologize for the failure or otherwise take responsibility: “[The agency] regrets this unfortunate incident. It certainly doesn’t accurately reflect the overall high-quality work we have produced for Chrysler.”

    In the Red Cross situation, the fail was mitigated by a quick recovery. So I suppose we can dive into the “faces of failure” like Dante’s circles of Hell…

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