On Monday a man stole a car parked outside a shop in Changchun, Jilin province. Police say when the thief realized there was a 2-month old baby on the back seat he strangled him and buried him in the snow. The thief/killer then gave himself up on Tuesday after a manhunt involving more than 3,500 policemen and media appeals. The death of the baby was met with shock, disbelief and outrage on Chinese media and social media.
A Buick car dealership in neighbouring Liaoning province used their Sina Weibo account to say their cars carry a GPS system "allowing the lockdown of a stolen vehicle at any time and place. Why not buy a completely safe Buick?" The advert used a picture of the dead baby, along with two of the dealership's new cars.
This attracted strong condemnation online and a calls for a boycott of the car-maker. The dealership has of course since apologised, saying the ad was totally inappropriate and it deeply regretted the "hurt it had caused to the family of the victims and society". Damage has already been done.
In order to protect its brand in China, Buick China should:
- Release its own statement condemning the behavior of the local dealership
- Initiate support for a child-protection campaign of some kind
- Use this as a case study of "what not to do" to educate it dealers so nothing like this happens again
Other companies would also be wise to use this as a case study to educate its own staff and dealers.
- "Chinese anger at murder of carjacked baby", BBC News, March 6, 2013.
- "辽宁天合别克借婴儿失踪案营销 骂声一片", TopNews9, March 6, 2013.
- "别克4S店借婴儿随车被盗案营销", NJ Daily, March 6, 2013.
CKB Solutions is all about real solutions for the real world. To learn how we can help your business, contact Greg Kovacic in Hong Kong.