I had originally planned on writing an in depth piece covering the latest United Airlines fiasco, but it occurred to me that this situation calls for a visual representation of the degradation of their legacy airline brand. United is a hallmark example of a brand that has yet to understand millennial consumers. If this was observation was not evident when they banned two female teenage passengers from wearing leggings aboard a plane (on an award ticket), it has to be now.
I will not delve into the politics and practices of the airline, but will briefly touch upon their response to the latest explosive situation. Rather than getting ahead of the “internet” (referring to the trolls and meme lords) and issuing an authentic apology, the brand defended their gate agent’s decision and refused to budge on their corporate stance. In the short time following the incident, thousands of likes, shares, and comments were traded on social media platforms that placed the brand in an unflattering light. As if the brand hadn’t already faced issues with attracting millennial fliers, they managed to turn thousands of them into enemies overnight. Individuals who may have been considered passive or non-rejectors of the brand have been exposed to this brand-damaging content every time they scroll through their social media feeds. This exposure builds to create subconscious brand biases that ultimately influence consumer-buying behavior.
“Give the Internet a meme, and they’ll laugh for a day. Teach the Internet to utilize an open source template for creating and sharing memes, and they’ll laugh for a week.”
Take a look at the top memes below:
Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist and researcher based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.