No thank you, Chrysler


When Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO of beleaguered automaker Chrysler, posted Thank You America on Chrysler’s corporate blog at the end of December, I imagine the last thing he or his communications team expected was the scale and depth of vitriolic comment left by some of the good citizens of the USA in response.

Beginning his post with a well-meaning “Thank you for investing in Chrysler – America’s Car Company” was a trigger for the vitriol.

In particular, it’s the unfortunate use of the word ‘investing’ – it’s what many people see that they have involuntarily done through the federal government’s planned bailout of the US auto industry, so it isn’t quite the best word that car customers would have in mind.

There’s a lot of passion – almost all of it totally negative – in the more than 250 comments. And to make a comment, you have to register on the site, a process that tends to put off many people from commenting on blogs. Not these citizens. From just four of those many opinions:

Mr Nardelli, Fire your PR and advertising teams and execs immediately.  We the People did not want to see any more ads and money wasted on ads, be it from Chrysler, et al, or from your own pocket.

Your resignation and the resignations of senior executives who have mismanaged the business would have been much more appropriate.

I’m speechless.  And I’m saddened that a corporate management team is so inept at understanding public opinion.  Some advice:  issue a press release stating that you regret that you made a mistake using taxpayers’ money in this manner.

Thank You? Kiss mine you looters. I had ZERO choice in the matter.

While there is no direct response in the post or elsewhere on the blog from Mr Nardelli, or anyone else in Chrysler, that I’ve been able to see, one thing struck me head on – all comments on the Chrysler blog are moderated.

That seems to mean that someone at Chrysler would have reviewed each of these comments, and approved them for public view. Or maybe reviewed once published and not removed any.

And it’s certainly the most engaged-with post on the site. Contrast the number of comments on that post with just a handful on a post the other day announcing a strategic alliance with Italian carmaker Fiat, some news that you’d think might make a lot of customers a lot happier.

I guess it illustrates one aspect of human nature – or of pissed off customers – that good-sounding news isn’t necessarily that which stimulates reactions (if that were the case, we wouldn’t have any tabloid newspapers).

Interesting to see what Chrysler’s communicators do next.

(Via Johnnie Moore.)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Len Edgerly

    This insightful post was the one that finally kept me from canceling my Kindle subscription to your blog just before the 14-day free trial was up. Another way that you hooked me was the frequency with which “new” showed up on my Kindle next to on my Kindle home screen.
    Each week on my Kindle podcast I read aloud something that’s on my Kindle, and your Chrysler post was my subject this week. It’s at 26:25 of this week’s Episode 27 of The Kindle Chronicles.
    Reading a well-written blog on my Kindle is an order of magnitude more satisfying and pleasurable than reading the same content on a computer screen. It’s that difference which makes me willing to pay 99 cents a month for content which I would never consider paying a penny for on the Internet.
    Cheers, Len Edgerly (Denver and Cambridge, Mass.)

  2. neville

    Len, thank you so much for such kind words. That’s the nicest comment I’ve ever seen on this blog!

    You’ve set the expectation bar very high indeed. Hope I can keep up with it.

    Downloading the Kindle podcast as I type…

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