Apparently Halifax FM, the naff radio station featured in the latest round of Halifax ads, has had a change of music policy, moving away from the likes of Vanilla Ice and the Lightning Seeds to some more contemporary dubstep:
Of course, this is just a user-generated mashup, but it highlights both the opportunities and threats that social media provides to brands.
This video has been doing the rounds on Facebook (although it has “only” 5,000+ views on Youtube so far, which is quite small for a viral video), and probably does no harm to the Halifax brand (other than show up the naffness of the original ads).
Yet mashups and other examples of user-generated content can easily go viral with anti-brand messages.
A good example is the United Breaks Guitars video written about United Airlines. The video has now had almost 10 million views on Youtube and is one of the key case studies of how customers can hit back at brands. In the end United Airlines apologised and compensated the customer for their damages, although the coverage it has had has probably had an even more positive effect for the band of the guy who complained.
This is a scary area for brands, and banks in particular are still wary of getting into social media because of issues such as this. After all, their reputation isn’t exactly brilliant at the moment, so they don’t really need to add to the problem with some clever viral content. Perhaps that’s why only First Direct, which consistently gets praised for its customer service, is one of the few banks confident enough t0 use social media.
But with customers are already commenting on their service on social networks and will create mashups and viral complaints that many others will see, other banks and other financial companies will have to get used to monitoring and reacting to this type of content.