The furore surrounding the ‘exploding batteries’ incident seems to have died down now, but not without creating a landslide of negative media coverage for Dell.
While Apple’s press office went into overdrive in a bid to convince consumers that this was all Sony’s fault, it probably needn’t have worried. The tagline that stuck was ‘the largest recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry’. Sorry Dell, that’s all yours for a while.
So, as Apple happily suggested that the recall ‘would not have a material effect on the company’, Dell pumped $150 million into improving service following a swathe of angry reactions from customers.
Whenever high profile incidents such as this occur at the same time, it always exposes underlying feelings about a brand. In this instance, when media opinion about two huge manufacturers was crystallised by two near-identical incidents and almost the same time, the difference was marked.
Once again, the iPod’s impenetrable ‘halo effect’ on its mother company protected it. Over on the other side, Dell was consistently bashed, as reports leaked out of airlines banning their batteries and profits missed forecasts for the fourth time in 12 months.
But in reality, all it takes is to look slightly behind the mainstream news outlets to see that Dell is succeeding in markets where others are yet to get a foothold.
How about ‘Dell’s India sales grow by 63%’? Doesn’t ‘a sharp surge in sales’ sound like good news? Combine that with the story that Dell will be building its fourth manufacturing plant in Asia next year and the future of the beleaguered computer maker suddenly stops looking so gloomy.
It all goes to show that, in the case of a media crisis, a lot of the fallout will be due to the prevailing opinion about your brand. The positive feeling about Apple thanks to a couple of good products carried it through, while Dell’s recent troubles amplified the negative, no matter how underserved that coverage might have been.
Let’s see how Matsushita gets on, shall we?