Photo: Weibo via Brand Channel
Buick has become a successful brand in China, with a Buick GL8 minivan reportedly becoming a firm favourite for executives.However, Buick’s Chinese brand could seriously suffer after a dealership in the country made a disastrous online publicity stunt.
The dealership’s stunt came earlier this week after China had been gripped with a report of a missing baby who was left in a car stolen in Jilin province.
The case had quickly become the top trending topic on Weibo (under the name “长春” or “Changchun”). However, events took a tragic twist on Tuesday when the car thief handed himself in to police, and confessed he had strangled the baby and buried it in the snow.
The infant’s body was found on Wednesday.
According to Abe Sauer at BrandChannel, a car dealership in the neighbouring province was apparently keen to get in on the buzz, and on Monday Liaoning Tianhe Buick’s Weibo page published a post mentioning the baby. While the post has since been deleted, Sauer has a translation and a screenshot of the post, which shows images of the baby alongside two Buicks.
While the post was written before it was known the baby was dead, with hindsight it looks to be in extremely poor taste.
Here’s the translation.
“A few thoughts following the Changchun stolen car incident: When buying a car it’s completely OK to choose higher technology. Tianhe Buicks carry the OnStar GPS system, allowing the lockdown of a stolen vehicle at any time and place. An easy heart, a piece of mind, likewise why not buy a completely safe Buick!!!!! Sales Hotline: 024-86547880 86547881 QQ:521279389 2523275273 www.inthbuick.com.”
By Wednesday morning, Sauer writes, the Buick dealership’s name was the second highest trending Weibo topic. The dealership’s Weibo account has issued a short, “solemn” apology, but Chinese netizens are demanding more.
Buick wasn’t the only car company hit with bad publicity from the case. South Korean company Hyundai was also forced to apologise for a message on its Weibo account relating to the murder of the infant, Bloomberg reports.
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.