There’s a new twist to the Volkswagen India fiasco on Twitter. Today, as the clock struck noon, Volkswagen India decided the time is ripe for a response for the sexist tweet it made three days ago on the 11th of September. The German automobile major isn’t saying a ‘sorry’ yet.
“Our Volkswagen twitter handle got compromised. We officially distance ourselves from it. We are investigating this issue”, said the official Twitter handle @VolkswagenIndia.
Our Volkswagen twitter handle got compromised. We officially distance ourselves from it. We are investigating this issue.
— Volkswagen India (@volkswagenindia) September 14, 2012
Let us assume this is true, just for once. So what do we comprehend here?
- It took them three harrowing days to come up with a response.
- It took them three days and two nights to discover their Twitter handle had been compromised.
- And that they are still investigating the issue.
Either Volkswagen considers us to be absolute idiots or they must be planning on an exit strategy soon. I am convinced of the latter since the statement by Volkswagen on Twitter, is a complete desecration of online reputation management.
In the rule book of online reputation management, Rule no. 1 is to apologise immediately. Volkswagen does not feel the need to apologise as their Twitter handle was compromised. Rule no. 2 is to offer a resolution. Since it wasn’t their fault, there is no need for a resolution.
Should Volkswagen be held accountable?
Let us go back to that fateful day. The vibrating devices attached by Volkswagen in the leading morning newspapers, had set off vibrations in the offline world. While many were pleasantly surprised with this ‘vibrating’ introduction of the new Vento and Polo, a majority were annoyed or took digs at the Volkswagen India Twitter handle, around the indirect sexual implications of the brand message.
Someone handling the VW Twitter got all steamed up and retaliated with a sexist tweet – “Women would be dumb to call it a vibrator. Or maybe they do not understand real driving experience. #PunIntended #Volkswagen #Creative”.
That someone forgot to apologise even after the uproar caused by that tweet. Volkswagen India could have easily saved the day by a mere apology. But it chose to delete the said tweet on the sly and went mum. Both rules governing online reputation management have been broken.
Today, after three and a half days precisely, the brand gives some statement but refuses to be accountable for its actions. Assuming that the account was indeed compromised upon, the issued statement does not reflect even an iota of concern for its consumers. The brand has not only severely compromised on its relationship with consumers, but has also received a massive hit on its reputation.
A ‘sorry’ could have shut the lid but this delayed statement has just opened up the Pandora’s box in social media. Let’s wait and watch what is unearthed by their investigation.