Airports

Today in Accountants Making Bad Decisions: Tweeting That You’re Going to Blow Up an Airport

When an airport is closed due to inclement weather, most people just shrug and realize that there’s nothing they can do about it. Oh sure, there might be a few lunatics who will yell at the ticket agent because they’ve somehow concluded that they have the ability to ring up the Almighty and put in a rush order of clearing skies but most people have the self control to internalize this.


In the case of Paul Chambers, an accountant in the UK, it wasn’t so much a ticket agent but his Twitter followers who heard his frustration. Chamber was understandably concerned that he wasn’t going to get laid due to Robin Hood Airport being closed this past January after a snowstorm. Chambers claimed that he Tweeted the following…

“C—! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your sh– together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”

…out of frustration because he was scheduled to fly to Belfast to meet Crazy Colours, whom he had met on Twitter. Prior to the C U Next Tuesday message, he had Tweeted to Crazy Colours, “I was thinking that if it does I’ve decided that I’m going to resort to terrorism,” presumably referring to another snowstorm that could potentially delay is upcoming travels.

Anyhoo, the Tweet was discovered by a Robin Hood Airport employee who was compelled to report the threat to authorities. Naturally this led to seven hours of questioning, the loss of his job, and a ban from the airport for life (later rescinded).

The judge ruled that the Tweet was ”of a menacing nature in the context of the times in which we live.” Chambers was fined approximately $1,500 and naturally, took to the Twittersphere with his thoughts on the matter:

Accountant used Twitter to threaten to blow up airport [Telegraph]
Briton Convicted for ‘Menacing’ Tweet Against Robin Hood Airport [The Lede/NYT]

BDO’s Big Ad Campaign: It’s Deadly

Advertising a professional service company is a challenge for ad agencies. First, the subject is not all that interesting, except maybe to the people who work there, their families, and their clients. And second, the differences from one company to another are minute. What you can say about one CPA or law firm is pretty much the same as another. You can’t advertise a firm as doing something better, the way Tide claims to clean better or Crest to whiten teeth better.

What can marketers do when they can’t make a claim that they are better? Why, write a jingle, like Coke or Pepsi of course. However, professional service companies have to maintain some gravitas. Schmaltz and accountants would be like wearing shorts and flip-flops to a client meeting.

We’re presenting some analysis of two current accounting firm ad campaigns, starting with BDO and tackling Grant Thornton this afternoon.

Analysis and videos, after the jump


The solution is to differentiate yourself not by what you say but through the tone of your advertising. And the tone of the BDO’s advertising is deadly, almost literally. It is dark, and cold, and depressing. And it doesn’t work because it takes itself too seriously. The conversations are artificial, and the situations forced.

In the following commercial, as two executives exit an unidentified intuitional-looking edifice, one person says to the other “Reilly hit the roof” about the need to restate. We never find out who “Reilly” is, but are reassured that “the partners are on it”, suggesting that BDO will not send in the juniors to fix the problem.

This second commercial deals with the switch from GAAP to IFRS. Why is BDO best suited to handling it? According to the commercial because of its global resources and because “it’s complicated.” Oh? Weak, pretty generic, arguments.

The best asset BDO has is it tagline, “People who know, know BDO”. That could have been the idea for a very nice commercial, maybe using real customers, but BDO did not capitalize on it.

Avi Dan is President & CEO of Avidan Strategies, a New York based consultancy specialized in advising professional service companies on marketing and business development. Mr. Dan was previously a board member with two leading advertising agencies and managed another.