The Great Chocolate Cake Debacle

Usually I’m pretty good about keeping up on marketing stories, but sometimes one slips by.

Thus I was intrigued by today’s conversation with the appliance repair guy, who came to apply defibrillator paddles to my El Cheapo dishwasher.

Calling “CLEAR!”, he recounted the great chocolate cake debacle, which impacted similar units under different names from this manufacturer.

It seems back in 2012 the manufacturer did a video of a faux chef loading their new unit with a 12” pizza and an 8” chocolate cake. “Almost 4 lbs. of food,” the actor proclaimed.

Putting the dishwasher through its paces, both pizza and cake were washed away. “Actual results” the video stated, showing a clean interior and a trap full of scraps. “Not a morsel of food to be found,” our spotless spokesman said, before urging “Please share this video with sales associates and consumers to show how effective the wash system is in these new dishwashers.”

“However,” Repair Guy reported “the whole thing was bogus. The claims were totally fake and the video a sham.” His story concluded with a consumer class action suit and lots of pain to the manufacturer.

My research turned up little beyond the video and ensuing poor reputation for this unit, suggesting Repair Guy either he got his facts wrong or court records were sealed. We may never know the truth.

Yet the flashy video and the unit’s poor reputation provide invaluable marketing lessons for the rest of us. Regardless of what you sell, good marketing will only cover up a bad product for so long.

One 2016 review noted this dishwasher “…looks good on paper. Sadly the dishes just don’t come out very clean,” before concluding “If you’re upgrading …to raise the market value of your kitchen, be aware you’ll be sticking your homebuyer with an underperforming machine.”

Today’s communications options ensure every problem and defect will eventually come out. And any business looking to increase sales must take reputation, repairs, lawsuits, and the power of social media into account when projecting long-term profitability.

Perhaps that’s why companies with good return policies are so positively received in the marketplace.

Because, unless you’re looking to sell and dash, the only way to encourage ongoing customer relations is by treating customers…and their dollars…with respect.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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