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How to destroy your business with an internet viral

Marketers beware: you are only a malicious viral away from disaster. Here’s a cautionary tale, courtesy of The Guardian.

The Maldives is a small Muslim archipelago republic in the Indian Ocean which relies almost exclusively for its income on upmarket tourism – or rather, it did.

A Swiss couple wishing to solemnise their marital vows in a more exotic setting than their alpine homeland alighted upon the resort of Vilu Reef. That proved a big mistake. Hotel staff played an unkind practical joke on the pair by substituting for the marital vows a stream of sonorous expletives, the gist of which is contained in the two words “infidel” and “swine.” Only, the couple were unaware of their ritual humiliation because it was carried out in the local language.

All this might have mattered  little  – it was probably not the first time the joke had been played – had a video of the ceremony not gone viral on You Tube. Now there’s all hell to pay. The Maldivian government is in melt-down over the crisis. It has issued a grovelling personal apology to the unfortunate couple and threatened all manner of retribution to the mischievous malefactors. That probably means a good flogging for the foul-mouthed “celebrant” and the 10 or so hotel staff present at the ceremony who did nothing to stop him.

But the damage is done. It has taken 40 years to build the Maldives’ status as a world-class tourist destination. And the silliness of one person playing with the internet to cripple it.

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