Bloggers are a force to be reckoned with. Conferences are being built around them, businesses are sending their products directly to the source to be blogged about, and "blogger" is officially a job title. They have also become an unofficial policing force of brands, not hesitating to voice their concerns and objections to a company, its products, or its business practices. Armed with little more than loyal readers and a Twitter account, a blogger can do some serious damage.
Check out the five examples of blogger versus brand, and take notes.
Kryptonite: The original flogging
One of the first examples of a lone blogger taking down a giant brand took place in mid-September 2004 when bike enthusiast Chris Brennan posted a note on the Bike Forums blog. "Your brand new U-lock is not safe," he began, before describing how he unlocked the company's new Kryptonite Evolution 2000 with a Bic pen. Very soon after, videos inspired by Brennan's post went live, showing how to pick the expensive locks with plastic pens. The story was picked up that week by national newspapers, including the New York Times which ran an article titled "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Lock."
On September 22, Kryptonite announced an exchange program, but it was criticized as being too slow, and many bicyclists went out and bought new locks from their competitors instead. Worse was the revelation that the glitch had been discovered and reported on in the British magazine, New Cyclist, way back in 1992 -- the pre-blog, dial-up internet days. This lead to 10 class-action lawsuits -- later settled out of court -- alleging Kryptonite knew about the flaw.
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Interestingly, the "Bic-opening method" didn't apply solely to Kryptonite
locks and didn't work on several of their earlier models: Any product that used that type of tumbler mechanism -- including things like vending machines and alarm system panels -- was vulnerable. And yet, there's no record of any vending machine companies being trashed in over 450 blog posts.
Six years or so later, Kryptonite is still an industry leader and openly addresses
the Bic pen scandal on their website:
"During the fall of 2004, it was discovered that the industry-standard tubular cylinder, used in most brands of portable security products, could be compromised, at times, with a household item. Kryptonite flew into action, created a voluntary lock exchange program and replaced over 400,000 locks in 21 countries for free. To do this, the company redesigned the equivalent of 9 years worth of new products in just 10 short months. Kryptonite is the only company in the world that offered such a comprehensive plan to customers, taking its 'legendary customer service' pledge to new heights."
One blogger managed to bruise the reputation -- albeit temporarily -- of an international, highly-regarded brand and cost them millions of dollars. It wouldn't be the last time.