Tesla shares fall and Elon Musk loses US$295 million after his baseless ‘pedo’ attack on Thai cave rescuer rattles investors
Four days after Tesla’s fourth-largest shareholder urged “a time of quiet and peace,” chief executive Elon Musk lobbed one of his nastiest stink bombs yet: an accusation about an organiser of the Thailand cave rescue that investors say is a major distraction from his mission running the embattled car-maker.
Here are NINE other times a person has shot themselves in both feet at great personal expense;
Gerald Ratner, chairman of Ratners
Perhaps the most famous salesman gaffe of all. In an infamous 1991 after-dinner speech, Gerald Ratner wiped £500m from the value of his eponymous jewellery when he said of its stock:
“People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, ‘Because it’s total crap.’”
He added that his stores’ earrings were “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long”.
Matt Barrett, former CEO of Barclays
In 2003, Matt Barrett, then Barclays’ chief executive, shocked observers by suggesting that consumers should stay clear of his company’s product, the Barclaycard, because it was so expensive.
Giving evidence to a panel of MPs, he admitted he would not use one himself.
He said: “I do not borrow on credit cards. I have four young children. I give them advice not to pile up debts on their credit cards.”
David Shepherd, former brand director of Topman
Asked in an interview in 2001 to clarify the target market for the Topman clothing chain, the firm’s brand director, David Shepherd, replied: “Hooligans or whatever.”
He went on: “Very few of our customers have to wear suits for work. They’ll be for his first interview or first court case.”
Topman later suggested that the word “hooligan” would not be seen as an insult among its customers.
Alain Levy, former CEO of EMI
Alain Levy, former chief executive of the music firm EMI, offended most of Finland when he said that he had cut the roster of artists on a subsidiary label the company owned because there were not that many people in the country “who could sing”.
Dame Helen Mirren – L’Oreal
Oscar winner and L’Oreal brand ambassador Dame Helen Mirren may have inadvertently damaged the cosmetics giant after commenting at a L’Oreal panel in the South of France that using moisturiser “probably does f— all”.
Despite being the face of L’Oreal’s ‘Age Perfect’ moisturiser range, she said that while the product probably does not make a difference to her skin, using it makes her “feel better”.
She said: “I’m an eternal optimist – I know that when I put my moisturiser on it probably does f— all, but it just makes me feel better. I’ve always said to L’Oreal as well that I will only do what makes me feel better.”
Dame Helen’s remarks have drawn comparison with other famous gaffes, when people have talked down a product they were supposed to be promoting. We take a look at some below.
John Pluthero, former chairman of Cable & Wireless
In 2006, John Pluthero, the former UK chairman of Cable & Wireless, sent a memo to staff that said: “Congratulations, we work for an underperforming business in a crappy industry and it’s going to be hell for the next 12 months.”
Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair
In 2012, Michael O’Leary, the controversial chief executive of Ryanair, called thousands of his passengers “idiots” in a furious rant. He said customers who turned up at the airport without a printed boarding pass were “stupid” and anyone who did not like the rule could “bu**er off”.
He has also criticised the in-flight experience on his airline, saying: “Anyone who thinks Ryanair flights are some sort of bastion of sanctity where you can contemplate your navel is wrong.
“We already bombard you with as many in-flight announcements and trolleys as we can. Anyone who looks like sleeping, we wake them up to sell them things.”
Anders Dahlvig, former president of Ikea
Ikea’s former president Anders Dahlvig admitted in 2001 that service in Ikea stores at weekends was “appalling”.
Dahlvig said the company had not been able to cope with the queues in the stores on a Saturday, telling the Financial Times:
“We haven’t been able to live up to the demands of our customers who shop with us at the weekend, especially the queuing. Every time we manage to fix something, we get another 20pc more sales.”
In 2003 The Independent claimed Allen Roses, then vice president of GlaxoSmithKline, had told a scientific meeting in London that the majority of drugs did not work in most cases. It quoted Mr Roses as saying that most drugs only work on 30pc to 50pc of people.
GSK hit back saying that the figures on the success rate of established drugs were “not new” and said that it was “extremely disappointing” that the pharmaceutical industry had been “misrepresented”.
Dianne Thompson, former CEO of Camelot
In 2002, Dianne Thompson, then chief executive of lottery operator Camelot, made a blunder when she said that lottery players had virtually no chance of winning the jackpot and would be lucky enough to win a tenner.
In an interview with The Telegraph she claimed to have never made the remark. She said: “I learned a lot about dealing with the media from being quoted as saying something I never actually said about people being ‘lucky to win a tenner’.”