If you needed any more persuading about the power of "social media" (basically people with a common interest sharing stuff via the web; also called Web 2.0), then Ben's update on Taco Bell's rat-infested brand hell is for you.
This has been all over the media in the US, but our European readers may not have heard about it. A load of rats were caught on film partying on down at a Taco Bell restaurant. Now this got on CNN, which is bad enough. But what's different today is that this brand bomb doesn't just explode once. There is a chain reaction of mini explosions set off around the web. Ben reports "Now there are at least 27 videos on You Tube with approximately 660,000 cumulative views." (update: since Ben's post, this is now up to 52 videos). Yum brands CEO ordered a number of the restaurants to be closed down, and issued an apology on the company website.
A few lessons from this:
1. If you have a shitty product or service, then watch out. When you get found out, you'll pay the price big time
2. Web 2.0 is an incredibly powerful tool to amplify both the bad, like Taco Bell's rats, and good (Dove's Revolution viral video)
3. You need a PR plan in place to harness the power of Web 2.0 in the case of brand disaster