Sunday, November 14, 2010

LG Philippines Optimus One Launch - Malice or Stupidity?

November 13, 2010, 2:00pm - LG Philippines launches it's "highly anticipated" Optimus One in a fashion that will forever be remembered as an epic failure! Then again, was it really an epic FAIL? For the thousands who fell in line, the gullible public (myself included) who believed in good marketing and promotions in every company's quest to build brand loyalty (I will explain more in detail below), definitely. We will always remember that day as the day we all got SCAMMED by LG. For LG's decision makers present in the event that day, perhaps not - they might have achieved what they were possibly REALLY after - the illusion of people clamoring for their brand.

LG Philippines introduced its new Google Android phone to the market with a promo: 1 day, for only 1 hour, get the Optimus One at 50% off it's SRP. To be fair, the promo was pretty straightforward - 1 day, 1 hour - buyers beware. They also mentioned that only 1 phone will be sold per person during that hour. No more, no less. Here's an image of their ad/flyer posted on the net and distributed to people in line:

Hanlon's Razor states: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." As much as I would like to say that the event was just handled stupidly, I can't help but feel that everything was done maliciously. Let me enumerate the reasons why I believe so:
  1. Event facilitators allowed a line to build up from its concept store on the 4th floor all the way to the 2nd floor (or so I heard) of SM Megamall (that's where I was). As much as the promo clearly stated that the promo was good for only an hour, no effort was done to cut the line short to a what would've been a realistic and manageable number. Neither did anyone offer fair warning that people from a certain point in the line can no longer be guaranteed of a spot; stay in line at your own risk.
  2. They assured everyone in line not to worry about the volume of people crowding the concept store and that they will honor our line. (See, our line had been split in two. The first part had approx. 40 pax. The second part, where I was and which was probably 10-15 meters away from the event proper, had everyone else - approx. 500 people at least. I was 11th in that line!) They sounded reassuring - like you'll all get your chance kind of assuring. They even had us log our personal details on a sheet of paper which made it look like that was our registry and guarantee. A legal loophole however is that they never said what exactly it was for.
  3. They told us that they'll be handing out tickets/stubs. They never did. Though I did hear they gave out stubs to people who were in the secure sale zone. Now i don't get that, what's the point of handing out stubs to a line of about 20 people, in a secure sale zone?!
  4. We were assured that 20 people will be handling transactions. To manage my expectations, I asked "how many people will be handling transactions for the promo?" Obviously, the number of sales will be determined by the number of people handling the transactions - especially since the promo will last for only one hour. I was assured "20 people sir." doing the math, if it takes 10 minutes to sell a unit, with 20 people managing the sales they would've been able to sell 120 units. Being the 11th in line and with no more than 50 people ahead of me, I thought I was guaranteed a spot. Lo and behold, at the end of the promo, I only saw one monitor in the store which I believed was their Point of Sale system, and only THREE PEOPLE AT A TIME being serviced. "Being serviced" included checking the package contents and testing the units.
  5. We were assured an "unlimited" number of units for sale. When we asked how much do you have in inventory and how many units are you going to sell, the reply was VERY ASSURING - we have an unlimited number available for today... and we're still getting stocks! Now of course we/I didn't believe unlimited but I took it as we're ready to accommodate this volume.
  6. We were abandoned and left waiting. Come promo time, the first batch of ten from our line was guided by their bouncer to the safe sale zone. this happened around 2:15. The next 5, the bouncer got at 2:35. We never saw the bouncer again from that point (till we rallied in frustration that is) nor did we see a single LG Philippines employee come forward to tell us that they had reached their max. The next thing we heard was a voice from the public address system saying this is the last set of people we will be accepting for the promo or something like that - at 2:55. and we were the closest to the event. I wonder how the people at the 3rd and 2nd floors got the news.
  7. We were ignored. In frustration we rallied to the event area. Not a single face greeted us. The people who were all-smiles organizing us earlier wouldn't even look us straight in the eyes and say "I'm sorry, there's nothing I could do." No explanation, no nothing. We lobbied for about an hour by the kiosk. Those who I thought were decision makers eased out one by one, leaving their lower ranking staff to the angry "mob." I was yelling "just grant us an audience!"All I got was a tarpaulin shoved to my face, an announcement that we can buy other units in their partner stores, and the stunning view of LG Philippines' employees backs. LG staff were fortunate that Filipinos in general are immature enough not to file group lawsuits and mature enough not to result to mob violence.
What I'm really frustrated about is the rudeness of the staff:
  1. After attending to us pre-promo, no one bothered to even come to us to update us during the promo period much less, come to us afterwards to tell us that the promo was over.
  2. While lobbying, no one even looked us in the eyes.
  3. No apologies what so ever.
  4. No show of appreciation for participating.
  5. A tarp shoved in our faces to shut us up.
  6. Higher ups exiting discreetly
  7. and, this is really amazing, after signaling to the lady who was organizing us pre-sale to just please come near and talk to us, as she tried to head towards me, her manager (I presume) stopped her and told her to just sit down and look back.
Finally as to why I (or we) were all gullible enough to believe in this promo. In my mind, "this is a brilliant move for LG Philippines. They'll somehow be able to level the playing field thanks to the android OS. By selling the phone at half off:
  • a lot of people will want to get their hands on it,
  • they get to have a lot of people experience owning and using an LG,
  • those people can rave about their experiences
  • those people will develop a loyalty to the brand
  • and lastly, those people will encourage others to go with LG."
In my mind, to run a sale like this, you'd have to be highly efficient and organized. You don't throw out ads and press releases for a promo of this magnitude and have only 3-4 people managing the sales. Don't tell me you were only expecting 200 people (50 people x 4 concept stores) max to want to buy your product? If you honestly believe so, just close shop! You're manufacturing for only 200 interested people out of the entire potential market!? Haha, you must be really stupid to have actually thought so - unless you're telling us that you intended for all this to happen? You don't throw out a sale or a promo just to scrimp on sales. The essence of a sale and a promo is to make the most number of sales! Otherwise, you should've just announced the sale of a limited number of units - first come, first served.

LG Philippines however is not entirely to blame, I mean it was I who trusted that they'd be efficient, who believed that they'd want to make a sale, who thought that they were after brand loyalty and good publicity. I believed that they were after long term positive results.

Malicious or stupid - I wonder which LG Philippines would want to be remembered for? Either way, after this, I'll never buy an LG. After all, it was just the Android I was after.