Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone on August 19. Just five days later, the first phone exploded, thus launching Samsung’s public relations nightmare.
September 2, Samsung recalled 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 phones. Samsung’s public relations team blamed faulty batteries made in a certain factory, so they moved manufacturing to another factory. Samsung called the new batteries “safe.” When a company uses quotes around the word “safe,” consumers feel anything but safe.
The Nightmare Continues
Samsung’s public relations nightmare continued when “safe” batteries started exploding in phones that Samsung replaced. In one case, a replacement phone in a Kentucky man’s home. He was admitted to the hospital for smoke inhalation following the incident. He contacted Samsung, and they offered to investigate the phone. Samsung’s public relations team really messed up when they mistakenly sent the man a text saying, “I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it.” How do you come back from that?
A replacement phone also exploded on an airplane tarmac. Before the explosion, airlines asked passengers to keep Galaxy Note 7 phones turned off. After, some airlines asked passengers to place their Galaxy phones in a fireproof box. On October 16, the Federal Aviation Administration joined European, Asian and Australian agencies in banning all Galaxy Note 7 phones from air travel.
Fortunately for Samsung, they’re a large enough company that this incident won’t destroy the company. Nevertheless, Samsung’s public relations team will have quite the task of rebuilding the brand image.
If you’re still carrying a Galaxy Note 7 around, might I suggest a firefighter suit?