Undercover Boss", and it's "guest star"/featured CEO, Rick Tigner. The Twitter account that was most active seemed to be @KJWine, Kendall Jackson's own. I watched the show, though I didn't take it as far as some people, who drank Kendall Jackson wines and hosted viewing parties. Still, the social media leveraging that Kendall Jackson utilized was very impressive, it increased their brand visibility and created conversation about the company and product. That qualifies as a good return on investment, which is contrary to what people like Steve Heimoff claim; that there really is no ROI on social media.
My reaction to the show, again being distinctly in the minority, was one of pity for the CEO and admiration at how Twitter and Facebook were used for the public relations (spin) that transpired before, during, and after the show. Let me first discuss how bad I felt the company looked before analyzing the social media aspect. Before I even get that far though, I want to state that this isn't a personal attack on the CEO. Rick Tigner seems like a nice guy, and he got emotional (I think it was real) at multiple points of the show. I believe he does want his company to succeed and does care about the people that work at Kendall Jackson. Just how much he cares is up for debate though.
In the opening scenes, we see a group of executives sitting around tasting white wine, presumably the infamous Kendall Jackson Chardonnay, and Rick is describing it with words like "smoke", "oaky", and "buttery". My gut told me the scene was staged for the benefit of TV audiences but it came across as somewhat arrogant and snobbish, making wine look more hoity-toity than it needs to. Not a good way to start, I noted.
As we watched Rick screw up in task after task, the entertainment value was replaced by a sense of dread. If Rick is to lead the company, how can he not know his customer-facing employees' job duties and attitudes? In particular, after watching him waste company money attempting to work the bottling line, I was struck at how lost the guy looked doing real work.
|"I gotta count every row?"
The question is, would I want a guy like him running a company that makes wine? A short answer is no, a longer answer is hell no. The CEO knows less about making wine than I do, yet he controls a company that sells five million cases per year. His attempts at working the vineyards, on the bottle line, running deliveries, and in a tasting room showed that he really has no idea how the lowest levels of Kendall Jackson operate. That's a big red flag, because just like in any other large corporation, the lower you go, the more likely you are to find someone who is directly interfacing with the public on a daily basis.
|"tastes like apples and pears..?"
I was left with the sense that the CEO of Kendall Jackson is more comfortable behind a desk, telling people what to do and not really caring how they felt about it, just that they did what he felt was best. Either that or more comfortable behind his incredibly expensive Audi S6. Next I'll explore the social media angle that I noticed last night. By all accounts, it's been a smashing success for the
Watching the @KJWine account last night, I admired how well whomever ran that account managed to get outside their Twitter bubble and into the mainstream trends. There's an old joke that the only people who tweet about wine are wine people. While partly true, last night's tweets showed that it is possible to extend your brand's reach by generating and sustaining conversation based on a different media source. In this way, the TV show itself was leveraged to build brand buzz on Twitter and Facebook.
Through a combination of original tweets and retweets, the twitter account managers kept that buzz going into today. The Kendall Jackson homepage also has links to the TV show and their Facebook page was frequently updated with pertinent facts and details. While it's obviously a public relations coup to score a visit from the Undercover Boss film crew, there is also ample opportunity to squander that publicity. Kendall Jackson may have sold a few more cases of wine in the near term, but the name is now much more common in many American households. How many people going to buy wine (hint: millions already buy wine) will choose K-J because they saw the show? My semi-educated guess is it will be a few thousand, at minimum.
There's a saying: "there is no such thing as bad publicity", and even though the company may have not looked like such a hot place to work, the brand recognition metric took a sizable bump upwards. It's impossible to measure exactly how many more bottles of Kendall Jackson wines will sell but based on the audience numbers (unavailable at this time) we can reasonably assume that Kendall Jackson is going to be recognized by more people than before the show aired. Looking deeper, we can also see that because social media leveraged the TV show, wine consumers (who are already on social media sites) had a greater chance of being exposed to some great PR for the company.
Knowing this, we can therefore understand that a company (be it winery or otherwise) who uses social media to leverage an event (using this as a general term) properly can therefore expect a rise in brand recognition such that they will most likely (50%+ chance) a rise in revenue as well. Because of the fantastic PR job by both CBS and Kendall Jackson on the TV show and because of the well-managed Twitter campaign waged by the brand managers there, Kendall Jackson will see an increase in wine sales.
The people like myself, who remain skeptics and unmoved by the seemingly heartwarming story of a CEO who realizes the need for change, will continue to grumble about how Americans buy into crap like this. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we are a minority and our grumbling is mostly confined to blogs and microblogs.
Now all that remains to be seen is how long the changes Mr. Tigner made actually last. The employee's 401k was brought back and there's a new training program for employees who work with Spanish-speaking coworkers, as well as some kind of paperwork reduction program in place. Will that all stick around or is it just going to last as long as the buzz over the show does?