The power of word-of-mouth: killing the UCLA brand in less than 4 days

Anyone who follows the video file sharing sites will have seen the interest over the student being filmed getting innocently tasered at UCLA by police. I think this is the start of an interesting time for publicity industry. The video (I think it could be done by a student phone camera is a rough job where you really are just hearing an innocent student getting tasered repeatedly for not showing his student card. The playing field is changing fast for publicist. With the introduction of youtube, google and myspace video file sharing sites, I will show you the grave future of the industry through the recent example of the UCLA brand is currently going through.

Imagine this incident happened in 14th November 2004. Boy gets tasered in the UCLA library the following ensues.

The 100 people who were witnessed to the event would have been appalled by the actions of the UCLA police and would have told the people in their social network for the next week (max 30ppl each). It may have also been in the latest edition of the University Paper.

3,000 people would have heard about it plus another 10,000 from the local papers. 13,000 people opinion of UCLA and UCLA security have now taken a major battering this is a nightmare for the UCLA publicist.

Now fast forward to this accident happening in 14th November 2006. A student is lucky enough to have his phone camera with him and captures the events unfold. He goes home and puts it up on youtube that night and tells his 30 friends about it.

4 Days later, 1,100,000 people have viewed the footage. Unlike the people in 2003 they haven’t just heard about the incident they have viewed the footage

. If 13,000 people is a nightmare what is 1,100,000 telling 30 people for the next week what they saw on youtube?
Word of mouth network is no longer your consumer’s local 30 friends; it is all now the 400 friends on their myspace account, the 200 people who subscribe to their youtube videos and the 10,000 people who posts on the forum of their favourite sports club.