PR FAIL

Wow. This isn’t just how to lose customers, it’s how to alienate an entire segment of the population.

Chiappa Firearms is going to embed RFID chips in their guns.

On the one hand, that can make some sense from a manufacturing standpoint. But on the other, it’s a massive blunder… especially when your US importer — MKS Distributingdecides to mock customer concerns.

You would think they would understand their customer base. Yes, there are gun owners that are paranoid about being tracked and do get all tin-foil-hat about things. Consider as well how such behavior plays into tracking and registration schemes and other anti-gun and gun-banning politics. There’s just so much about this that is a problem. Have we forgotten Bill Ruger?

But what really made it into a problem was the PR handling. If Chiappa wanted to use RFID to help manufacturing and inventory, that’s one thing. All they had to do was issue a simple statement:

We’re using RFID chips. Note that there is one embedded in the frame. If you wish to remove it, simple remove the grips and pry out the chip (it’s just hot-glued in there).

As simple as that. It allows Chiappa to do what they want, and for those that care, there’s a simple solution. That’s called knowing your customers and customer base.

But to so openly mock, like MKS did…. that’s just insulting.

Sorry Chiappa. I’ve been curious about your Rhino and nearly bought one a time or two (if not for other financial priorities cropping up). But now? Not going to happen. You did this to yourself.

Updated: as you could see in the comments, I started to soften my stance… thinking that this was probably just an honest mistake, a miscalculation.

Have to take their word for it that it was.

12 thoughts on “PR FAIL

  1. Definete PR fail yes, but I can’t find the MKS official press release in its originial publicized form that actually SAYS that. Lots of forums and bloggers have picked it up, and they’re doing one of two things, either not linking at all, or linking to each other in a big circular pattern. I found this guy, who says HE received the following press release: http://trochronicles.blogspot.com/2011/07/chiappa-firearm-tracking-chip-rfid.html and since I don’t usually read him I’ve no idea how credible he is.

    I did find this: http://www.ammoland.com/2011/07/28/rfid-chip-in-chiappa-firearms/ but if you actually read article all the way to the bottom the lines:

    “Others may prefer to wrap the revolver and their head in aluminum foil, curl in a ball and watch reruns of Mel Gibson’s 1997 film, Conspiracy Theory. Well, that’s a plan too!”

    are in italics which is generally a sign that this was a comment added by the publishing author rather than part of the original press release. Although there is a statement in the comments stating that the press release was printed exactly as it was given to them. Now I’m also not familier with Ammoland so take your pick. I’ll be waiting and watching to see what happens.

    Continuing to search as I type, also found this: http://www.gunreports.com/news/news/Chiappa-to-put-Radio-Frequency-ID-Chips-in-Firearms_3209-1.html?CMP=OTC-RSS where Gun Reports says THEY received the press release, except that the one they’re publishing is subtly different than the one from AmmoLand though it still contains the damning lines.

    • Hrm. Good point. It could be that the entire gun blogger world was duped!

      But then, hasn’t MKS noticed? I’m sure people have contacted them (given comments and other things I’ve seen online). I’m not contacting them. And if this was NOT real, they would have spoken up.

      Who knows… maybe they’re thinking any PR is good PR? This is curious.

      • Could be, on the other hand the articles are all dated yesterday or today, so maybe someone in the MKS PR office is only just reading the influx of emails today?

        I’m a natural skeptic, I can think of lots of theories some of which put MKS at fault, others of which put whoever the original publisher of the press release was at fault, or a hacker, or…..donno, shall be interesting to watch at any rate!

  2. On Tam’s post on this over at view from the porch, in the comments someone posted a response from someone at MKS, along with some more info on the press release itself. Its coing across as legit, which means that MKS just killed a portion of their business.

    (No links cause I’m doing this from my phone cause the powers out and I’m going nuts.

    • Found it, read it. So, it’s legit (or so it seems). Let’s see what sort of damage control they come up with this week….

      I guess, give ’em a chance. That email from MKS seemed like they were trying to be clever, wound up looking really stupid, and MIGHT consider it an honest miscalculation. Who knows for sure.

      • glad you found it, its a new phone and I’ve not yet figured out how to copy and paste links and what not on it.

        I figure it’ll be interesting to what Chiappa’s response to all this as I’d imagine that the US has to be a reasonable percentage of their market. In the mean time anything that runs through MKS is going on my DO NOT BUY bookmark list.

        • I’m wanting to hope for the best… that it was an honest miscalculation. We’re all human, and geez… the gun world is a small world, and we do better to stick together than alienate each other… even the tin-foil-hat-wearing portion of our population. 😉

          I mean, there have been worse gaffs in this realm (e.g. HS Precision).

          • true, and thats part of why I was skeptical too, but its looking more and more like it was deliberate (if poorly thought out).

            • Well, deliberate how…

              It was deliberate to write it… to release it… with the approval of the PR company, of MKS… not sure about Chiappa (tho one would think they’d want some input into how they are presented and represented).

              But was it deliberate to be malicious and mocking? Or were they honestly just trying to be cute and silly but it backfired (in a big way)?

              That’s really the key thing here… the intent. And we’ll never really know the honest truth, only any backpedalling and damage control. We’ll have to take that for whatever it’s worth.

              Either way it does demonstrate a key thing about marketing: know your audience. 🙂

              • Deliberate as in, someone at the MKS level at least (I’m willing to give Chiappa the benefit of the doubt, if for no other reason than does the cultural reference of tin foil hats translate right so they can actually make that choice?) decided it was the appropriate response to a customer concern. If it was just the PR company then I’d expect to see someone fire them right quick. Maybe it was supposed to be a “joke” but considering that press releases are supposed to be spread far and wide its a really bad spot for one, SOMEONE’s going to be upset by it. Having spent lots of time in customer service myself I can say that one of the first (sometimes painfull) lessons is that just because you find it funny doesn’t mean the customer does and you learn really quick to keep those comments in your head.

                • Indeed. Plus well.. press releases really aren’t supposed to be a place to crack jokes… it just seems unprofessional.

                  Well, it’s Monday now… let’s see if there’s any damage control and/or spin. Should be interesting, because I know they’ve heard more than an earfull.

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