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Why the Kingsway Theatre Manager is a Social Marketing Moron

Awhile ago, a local Toronto actress (a minor celebrity) went to the Kingsway Theatre (located at 3030 Bloor Street West, Toronto) to see a film - and was singled out because she was dark skinned and she was asked to leave her backpack with staff.

However the backpack contained her phone and other valuables. It was ostensibly her purse.

Now imagine if you were a black man and you went to a movie theatre - and you were told you were not allowed to take your wallet in to the movie theatre. Meanwhile white men are walking by, getting let in with their wallets just fine.

That is basically how ridiculous their demands were. Nobody in their right mind is going to hand over their wallet, car keys, cellphone, purse or other valuables - whether they are stored in a backpack or not.

Plus why target only black people carrying backpacks?

So then the manager gets there. (He is also the owner.)

Now a smart manager would realize that not letting people into the movie theatre because they have a backpack is a ridiculous and stupid policy, because many young people these days use backpacks like they would purses and satchels. They are basically fashion accessories that are handy for carrying your valuables in.

The problem is that movie theatres want people to buy popcorn and soda pop - they make most of their money off selling food, not the movie tickets themselves. They don't want people sneaking in extra food or drinks.

The manager's logic behind the policy - and the targeting of only black people - suggests that he believes that only black people sneak in food and drinks. So he only enforces it for people he suspects are not following the rules - primarily by judging them by their skin colour as to who he thinks might be sneaking food in.

So to them having a no backpacks policy makes a bit of sense - but they don't have the legal right to search people's backpacks - because they are not police and they also do not have a warrant. They also legally should not be telling people to abandon their belongings with staff, who frankly are paid minimum wage and just as likely to steal your phone, wallet, etc. And if not staff, what is to stop other patrons of the movie theatre to just steal other people's backpacks?

So yes, the manager. Rui Pereira.

He gets there and he is the dumb fellow who created the whole no backpacks policy in the first place. So he doubles down on the policy and calls the police, claiming that a black woman is threatening him (which she was not).

The police get there, they basically apologize for the woman and explain that they get called there regularly because the manager is a moron who calls the police constantly whenever there is anything that his little brain cannot comprehend that requires more social skills.

So the young woman leaves and she posts about her experience on social media.

And it goes VIRAL.

Seriously, Rui Pereira should be paying her for all the free advertising the Kingsway Theatre got after the whole thing went crazy viral on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Lots of white supremacists started going to the movie theatre thanks to this incident - that is not a good thing!

It also caused a slew of interesting reviews on Google Maps.

Lots of people posted 1 star reviews, basically condemning the Kingsway Theatre and its moronic manager Rui Pereira.

So what does Rui Pereira do?

Instead of deleting the Google Maps listing (which is what he should have done), he doubled down again and posted responses to all the people leaving negative reviews. Some of his responses were longer.

Example:

"Response from the owner3 months ago
The truth is astounding! You and your back pack will be much happier some where else. Do not come back.

The Kingsway is a licensed BAR with a movie theatre in it. Signs are clearly displayed that indicate NO OUTSIDE FOOD or DRINKS. Signs also clearly state NO BACKPACKS or LARGE BAGS in the auditoriums. If you are not willing to follow the rules a ticket will not be sold to you. There are no arguments and no abuse of the staff.

ps you and google go f**K yourself."

And he didn't do this just once or twice. Oh no.

Of 82 reviews (as of April 19th 2017), he has posted 27 responses in which he more or less swears at people (and at Google).

Which brought on responses like the following:

a month ago-
Just by reading the owners responses to people, I will NEVER patronize this place. I feel sorry for people that work for him."

On the list of things not to do, arguing with the general public on the very public Google Maps' business reviews - let alone cussing at them - is definitely a big no no.

Rui Pereira, Racist Theatre Manager
I would not be surprised if a year from now Rui Pereira ends up burning the Kingsway Theatre down so he can collect the insurance money. Or sells the property to someone else.

Plus there is the subtle racism. He only invokes the no backpack policy for black people or other people he doesn't like. White people apparently walk in with backpacks, purses, satchels, etc and get in to the movie theatre just fine.

So clearly the policy is only there so that Rui Pereira can openly discriminate against black people.

Judging by the reviews Rui Pereira also hates people in wheelchairs. The old theatre isn't particularly wheelchair friendly and according to at least 1 review he and his staff are deliberately rude to people in wheelchairs.

And when people social media learn that, they share it. Hence why this story went viral.

THE VIRAL MARKETING LESSON

In theory, if a less reputable (and highly unethical) company wanted to promote themselves and get lots of free press in the media and social media they could do the following:

#1. Hire a really racist prick to be the manager.

#2. Allow the racist manager to make various policies that allows him to discriminate / segregate people at his/her leisure.

#3. Set up a situation in which a minor celebrity goes to the business and is treated rudely by the racist prick manager.

#4. The celebrity then tweets on Twitter or posts on Facebook, and it goes crazy viral.

#5. The owner of the company investigates and fires the manager - for damaging the companies reputation. The owner then issues a public apology for ever hiring that manager in the first place, but by that point the company's infamy has already gone viral, and there is a 2nd viral wave when people learn the manager has been fired.

So yes. That would be highly unethical for a company to do, but the resulting infamy equals free marketing. Only the most unscrupulous and desperate of companies would pull that kind of nonsense.

Lets take for example United Airlines.

This is rather recent news, but the effect is similar.

What happened was (in case you haven't heard about this case) United Airlines sold out all the seats on a place and decided that they needed more seats so they could transfer more staff to a different location.

So they asked for volunteers to give up their seats and take a different flight later.

Nobody volunteered.

So instead they picked a random Asian man (a doctor who needed to be at a certain city by Monday so he could perform surgery) and decided to forcibly remove him from his seat. They physically assaulted him and dragged him from his seat because he refused to move, explaining that he had patients to get to.

So they dislocated his jaw, broke two of his teeth, gave him a concussion, and numerous other injuries.

He is now suing United Airlines for having employees assault him and for their idiotic policy of forcing people off a plane for no good reason.

He will no doubt win the lawsuit. I estimate he will get at least $4 million USD.

If United Airlines' lawyers are smart they will try to settle out of court, because if the judge decides the amount then the judge can also add Punitive Damages as an extra punishment to the airline.

To make matters worse, the CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, claimed that the Asian passenger was belligerent and violent - which was not true, as the whole incident was caught on video. That compounded problems and Oscar Munoz later had to backtrack on that, during which he admitted culpability (in legal terms this is like admitting that the company did something illegal and is guilty).

So that makes the lawsuit so much easier now. The video. The witnesses. Company staff who say they were just following orders. The CEO who tried to blame the victim and was proven he was a big fat liar.

All of this blew up in the media and on social media.

Let alone the stock price, which dropped over $10 in value, and even after posting strong earnings for the past quarter is still down $6 compared to where it was before the huge scandal.

LESSONS LEARNED FROM KINGSWAY THEATRE + UNITED AIRLINES?

#1. Don't insult your customers (past or present or future) on social media websites.

#2. Don't do it in emails either, as they can later get leaked to the press / social media.

#3. If your company has a policy that is bad for the company's public image, scrap the policy because it is bad for business overall.

#4. Fire all your staff who do racist/sexist stuff. Rui Pereira cannot be fired because he is the owner, but the idiot who picked the Asian doctor as a good person to be removed from the plane should definitely be fired.

#5. Do not have any policy that calls for assaulting customers and making the company open to lawsuits.

#6. When people post tonnes of negative reviews on Google Maps because you did something wrong, don't argue with them. Just delete the listing.

#7. The same goes with a Twitter account, Facebook page, etc that becomes bogged down by bad press. In those cases the person managing the account can also just deactivate it (and it can later be re-activated).

#8. Make a Plan, hire a social media consultant for all your online reputation management. Or in the case of a big scandal, hire a Public Relations consultant.

#9. Do not interact with the general public during a reputation scandal unless you absolutely have to. No Tweets is good Tweets.

#10. Learn from other people's social media marketing mistakes. A scandal can be turned into an opportunity if the company chooses to Do the Right Thing. If they do not, it only makes the scandal worse and they end up paying more for it in the long run.

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