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Riding on the misery of others is bad marketing

A SUV in China was stolen and the baby in the car was also abducted. The sad part of the story was that the man responsible for it confessed to "strangling the baby and burying him in the snow".

A depressing story to start the day, but brandchannel reported that a dealer at China Buick Cars decided to take advantage of this tragedy as a marketing tool.

Wrote brandchannel,

"As events were unfolding, one of Buick's dealers in China decided the Changchun tragedy would be the perfect subject to tout features on its new model cars.
Liaoning Tianhe Buick, a dealership in Jilin's neighbor province, posted the following (now deleted) on its Weibo page (as a reader points out, before anyone knew the baby had been murdered):
"A few thoughts following the Changchun stolen car incident: When buying a car it's completely okay to choose higher technology. Tianhe Buicks carry the OnStar GPS system, allowing the lockdown of a stolen vehicle at any time and place. An easy heart, a piece of mind, likewise why not buy a completely safe Buick!!!!! Sales Hotline: 024-86547880 86547881  QQ:521279389 2523275273 www.inthbuick.com." 


Image Source: http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2013/03/05/China-Buick-PR-Disaster-030513.aspx
Screenshot of the Buick Posting

Buick Cars has apologised for the incident and deleted the post. However, screenshots of this post are spreading on China's social networks and the incident cannot be put to rest just yet as Buick soon became a top term on Weibo.

There is a lesson for all marketers out there. While the dealer might have saw this a marketing opportunity, the dealer lacked the empathy to understand the misery of the family and friends. 

It is this lack of empathy that often leads to PR disasters on social media. 

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