Headphones Burn Woman, Are a Marketing Lesson
Headphones exploded, burned a woman's hair and left her face blackened. Many passengers aboard her flight coughed en route from Beijing to Melbourne. Tuesday's Mashable article summarizing the air passenger's woes would seem to cover an isolated incident, until it mentions this: "The truth is, almost any device with a lithium-ion battery could explode. Why? Because as Mashable has written before, 'bad batteries are bad.' We're dealing with a lot of energy in a small package, after all."
What marketers could learn from dangerous products, even if they're not their own, is that everyone is affected and protecting consumers is in their own interest. That's even if they don't manufacture flammable hoverboards, exploding Galaxy Note7s and smoldering headphones. (And whatever product comes next in this "you knew it would happen" environment.) For example, hoverboards could be transporting consumers to retail establishments with flammable clothing. Smartphones could be displaying a particular marketer's ad when they catch fire. Headphones could be carrying products from media and entertainment marketers when they burn faces.
Using your imagination, these ideas can apply to more products and services.
Public Service Announcements
What are the chances these warnings from Mashable meant anything to the woman whose headphones exploded while they rested around her neck?
"Batteries should be kept in an approved stowage, unless in use," writes Mashable on Tuesday. "Spare batteries must be in your carry-on baggage NOT checked baggage. If a passenger’s smart phone or other device has fallen into the seat gap, locate their device before moving powered seats. If a passenger cannot locate their device, they should refrain from moving their seat and immediately contact a cabin crew member."
Sure. And too much alcohol can kill you, thinks no one celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
So one possible way to get the message through is to use humor.
Spread Awareness That New Products Are In Development
Maybe marketers can create ways to help speed up the development process, such as creating funding campaigns around those humorous PSAs.
Otherwise, Mashable says on March 6, it may take a long time for "a future 'solid-state' battery design [that] could potentially hold up to three times more energy and charge faster than today's batteries" to be marketed and replace the more dangerous, ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries.
At this point, the headphone manufacturer will have to do some damage control, much like the article I wrote in January 2016, "What to Do When People Talk Trash About You."
In this case, it's what I termed a justified attack. Volkswagen came through with a good reputation after dealing with its fiasco. Back then, the auto manufacturer did this: "Volkswagen’s CEO announced the company would submit its 'remedies for fixing diesel engines that cheat on emissions tests' to the EPA chief, according to the Associated Press. This comes amid reports that VW knowingly sold faulty vehicles that AP says are part of an 'expected recall of nearly 600,000 ‘clean diesel’ vehicles sold with secret software designed to make their engines pass federal emissions standards while undergoing laboratory testing. The vehicles then switch off those measures in real-world driving conditions, spewing harmful nitrogen oxide at up to 40 times what is allowed under federal environmental standards.'"
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.