Silencing the Lamb – A PR coup in China

Silencing of the lamb China is now Lamborghini’s second largest market in the world, accounting for some 200 units in 2011, and ironically it’s high profile marque has been a liability in a PR coup for one businessman in China. On Consumer Rights Day, 15th March, a man allegedly annoyed with the service from his Lamborghini dealer hired a crew of smashers to take hammers to silence the Lamb. The smashing of the Gallardo (price up to $700,000 in China) took place under a glare of publicity and in front of the show room of his factory outlet. Lamborghini issued a statement on the 18th saying: “We put customer satisfaction first at Lamborghini and think that in this case we did everything to solve the problem. We solved the problem to the satisfaction of the customer.” saying that the company had solved the owner’s problem and that the owner smashed the car “for reasons that are unknown to us and that are independent from his relationship with Lamborghini.” A person familiar with the case offered further details. The Lambo smasher, he said was a Japanese-Chinese businessman who imported the car from Japan. The Gallardo wasn’t new, as was widely reported, but was eight years old and probably was valued at about $80,000. According to this person, the owner had a problem with the car, which was promptly fixed. But the owner had a larger business dispute with the businessman who owned the Lamborghini dealership in Qingdao. The event was used, according to this person, for the owner to gain publicity for his own business and to discredit the owner of the Lambo dealer owner. When he smashed the car, the owner placed stickers on the car bearing his own company’s logo, this person said. He also smashed the car in front of his company’s office building, to direct more attention to his business. Reputation management in China has many challenges. Most companies don’t take a hammering, but should still be prepared for the kind of self seeking stunts which defy traditional PR practice.

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