When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series a week ago, GM sales exec Rikk Wilde had the honor of presenting the World Series MVP trophy to Giants’ pitcher, Madison Bumgarner. The presentation was a mess. First of all GM bet on the wrong team winning, because their man Wilde is an avid Kansas City Royals fan. The expected locker room euphoria did not ensue. Instead, Wilde found himself amidst the team that had just cut his heart out. He had to re-group after his Royals had lost in a breathtaking bottom-of-the-ninth finish. No surprise that during the presentation, Wilde lost control of his breathing, referred repeatedly to a note card for his scripted spiel, faced away from the camera, and at one point labeled Bumgarner’s new Chevy Colorado pick-up as featuring “technology and stuff,” a phrase I’m betting was not scripted by GM’s ad agency.
An old school approach by GM to Wilde’s presentation would’ve been to cover up the mistake, go on a counter-offensive by flooding their channels with the “correct” description of the Colorado. Maybe demote or fire Wilde for his gaffe. Or just plain pretend it didn’t happen, ignore it and hope that in time it’d go away. Here’s what happened instead: GM embraced the mistake! They yes-anded it! They celebrated the Wilde Man’s improvisation. “Technology and stuff” became a thing on social media, hashtags: #ChevyMan and #TechnologyandStuff. And guess what? The social media world embraced it! You know why? Here’s my theory: It was an honest, unscripted moment in an otherwise cliched television event–a trophy presentation–that most sports fans had seen hundreds of times before.
Never underestimate the value of being human. Humans are flawed. We get stage fright and hyperventilate. We have to look at our notes. We are under lots of pressure to “get it right.” Mistakes are understandable. When we celebrate our mistakes by making the best of them, we are at our most human. When we are at our most human, we thrive.
Congrats to GM on revealing the humanity behind its machines. Someone there understands that their customers are human, too, and can relate to Rikk Wilde’s subversion of the script, however unintended it was. Sports and naming analytics company, Front Row Analytics estimates that Chevy got $1.95mm in earned media in the four days after Wilde’s World Series presentation. Truck on, Chevy Man, truck on!