If United Airlines were a person, it would be Michael Scott: Idiotic, sometimes well-intentioned, quick to deny wrongdoing, and always willing to ingratiate itself, no matter how embarrassing it may be. And, like Michael Scott, the airline’s PR team has very little common sense. The most recent evidence? United has somehow not realized that three well-publicized SNAFUs within one month are probably a good indicator that they should just lay low for a while. Instead, United’s continuing their attempts to curry favor with the public by trying to connect with Carter Wilkerson, the man who broke the world record for most retweets in his quest to get free chicken nuggets from Wendy’s.
It all started on April 7th, when United offered to fly Carter to whatever Wendy’s he wanted if he got the 18 million retweets that Wendy’s asked for in return for the free chicken.
At the time, it was possibly a good PR move, as United had just come off its first major fiasco — Legginsgate — and wanted to show the world that it was fun and free and still everyone’s friend. But the tweet ultimately backfired. First, people started complaining about the fact that the airline was trying to become a part of April’s biggest meme while passengers were being stranded at airports, and then, after the airline became synonymous with an image of a bleeding and brutalized man who had been “re-accommodated” by authorities, the tweet’s replies became a minefield of warnings and recriminations.
You’d think that would be the end of the story, considering how much of a beating United has taken for its actions, but today the company tweeted at Wilkerson again, reminding him of their promise (which he retweeted) (absolute power corrupts absolutely, eh, Carter?) and also including the previous tweet, you know, the one which contained all that venom about its handling of the Dao case?
It’s a bold move, let’s see how it played out for them:
On one hand, get that free flight, Carter Wilkerson! Take it wherever you want to go! On the other, if we let the airline (which could soon be shrinking their seats even further!) bounce back from its PR woes with one cringey tweet and a free flight for the internet’s latest darling, then what will we get in return?
A couple of good feels the next time our flights are delayed? That’s just not enough.