Ocean Marketing’s Founder Paul Christoforo goes viral, very bad PR

Michael Foley December 30, 2011 10
Ocean Marketing’s Founder Paul Christoforo goes viral, very bad PR

“Twas the month of Christmas, when all through the web

A Fail went so viral it made him a celeb.

His emails were taken, his meme almost finished,

Poor Paul Christoforo’s reputation? Very diminished.”

My sincerest apologizes for butchering “The Night Before Christmas.” But I only did so to bring you this cautionary tale of the power of the internet and how there really is such a thing as “bad PR.”

I am of course speaking of Ocean Marketing and its founder Paul Christoforo, who shows us just how bad it can get for you when you act like a jerk on the internet. While yes, there are many trolls out there, the lack of tact that this “PR specialist” displayed in handling a customer complaint is beyond anything I have seen; even Netflix can’t hold a candle to this guy.

It was all concerning The Avenger controller which was supposed to be shipped out early in December. The promise was that those who had pre-ordered the product (with an upfront payment mind you) would have it in time for Christmas. But the promise was broken and no one who had pre-ordered the controller received it. So a concerned customer, “Dave,” contacted the company asking for an update as to when he could expect his two controllers. The only response he got was a cryptic “Dec 17” from Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo.  When Dave did not receive the package he was waiting for on Dec 17th, he promptly emailed Paul back asking for another update. This is, judging from the following email correspondence, when Paul lost all sanity (and language skills).

In his follow up emails to Dave’s understandable questions, Christoforo proceeded to  become increasingly defensive and verbally abusive towards Dave (aka the customer). Not only did Christoforo show terrible customer service, addressing Dave as “Dan” and accusing him of being a broke teenager who doesn’t understand the way the video game industry works, he started to dig himself deeper into his grave.

Tired of the verbal abuse and needing a way to vent his frustrations, Dave emailed several news groups, including Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade.

In a previous email, Paul had mentioned that the controller in question had been at PAX East, which caught Krahulik’s eye. Krahulik responded to both Dave and Christoforo, stating that “if this guy has a booth at Pax East we will cancel it.” And what was Christoforo’s reply? If you guessed a dignified and mature response you guessed wrong. Instead this was the nature of the dialogue:

Oh wait, it gets better.

Christoforo goes on to threaten Krahulik, saying that he’ll “put [his] marketing team on a smear campaign of Krahulik and [his] site and [his] emails , I have about 125 dedicated people to run PR , Blogs , Articles , Videos you have no clue who I am .” My, aren’t we cocky.  Christoforo clearly had no idea who he was talking to, proving once again that ignorance is death.

Well Christoforo’s rudeness was not taken too lightly by Krahulik, who posted the entire back and forth emails on penny arcade. They are well worth a read so please do here. My jaw literally dropped as I continued to read the venomous (and almost illegible) emails Christoforo wrote.

So what happened? This story went viral, and away went Christoforo’s good reputation. Not only was he fired from handling customer relations and PR for The Avenger, but he has become the object of ridicule for the online community, receiving thousands of antagonizing emails, begetting a video parody, and becoming the butt of a joke from Geico referencing one of his emails.

Christoforo has stated that aside from the emails, his wife and child have also received threats. This is something which should stop, immediately. Harassing his wife on Facebook and leaving threatening messages on her phone is not OK. But as for Christoforo? I won’t lose any sleep over a bully receiving some negative emails, especially when he is clearly not sorry for his actions:

 

I didn’t know who that guy at Penny Arcade was,” he admitted. “If I had known, I would have treated the situation a little better.”

 

In other words, “I’m only nice to important people.”

But to be fair, you can get Christoforo’s side of the story by reading the full interview with the man himself on Forbes.

PR people/anyone online be warned, be careful about what you say… with the internet, you never know where it could end up.

 

10 Comments »

  1. Patrick Nosker December 30, 2011 at 11:26 am - Reply

    My favorite is @mlhumph3 tweet with the hashtag #badass.

  2. GMS December 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I’m sorry, but the message here isn’t, “be careful what you say because you never know where it might end up.” The message here is, ‘hey folks, here’s an example of an appalling customer service attitude – the type that undermines credibility and kills a brand. In this case, it’s displayed by an obviously supremely arrogant individual who has completely lost sight of why he’s in business and where his wealth comes from.’ Sadly, I’m afraid, he’s not alone.

    • Michael Foley December 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      Too true. It is a shame when business becomes so large that the quality of their service drops. Cases like this just go to show that no matter how large your business, at the end it all comes back to the customer. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Gms December 30, 2011 at 2:34 pm - Reply
  4. Herrrooo December 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Imho the message isn’t “Be careful what you say because you never know where it might end up” nor is it “hey folks, here’s an example of an appalling customer service attitude…”. The message is “Don’t be a jerk.”

    Or my favorite flip side: Be Excellent To Each Other.

    • Michael Foley January 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      Good motto to live by!

  5. Meanie January 1, 2012 at 12:58 am - Reply

    The costumer is always right.

    • Michael Foley January 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      Even if he’s wrong. 🙂 A golden rule of business.

  6. NYUKKA January 6, 2012 at 1:36 am - Reply

    what the fuck is wrong with everyone? the only assholes here are mike khraulick of PAX, you people, and myself seriously PAX? fuck PAX. bad on dave of ocean marketing for fucking up but seriously mike of PAX is a fucking asshole “OOOO we can promise you, you wont have a booth at our convention.” fuck that shit i am sure there are better conventions out there.

  7. nerds arguing...How Funny! January 6, 2012 at 10:56 am - Reply

    WTF is Pax anyway and 4that matter penny arcade? I have been gaming since i was a kid in the ’70’s and have never heard of them.
    I say we put them in a cage match and let them pull each others hair and claw their eyes out. Oh, Forgot the one dude was from Baaaston, maybe there will be a punch or two.

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