Imagine, you are strolling down the street, leisurely saunter about, when you see a sleek, blue Rolls Royce cruising along. You would probably appreciate the beauty of the luxurious car in your head and not think much of it. What if you see another of the royal beasts, and another, and another? What if you see an entire herd of the lavish cars rolling down the street? You look through the window and you do a double-take. Imagine, instead of passengers, you see a load of garbage.
As a commoner
In 1920, an Indian king by the name of Jai Singh traveled to London for a vacation. He wanted to travel the streets without being noticed, as an English commoner. So, there he was, strolling down Bond Street adorned in casual English clothing. The King happened upon a Rolls Royce showroom and decided to enter to see what the cars were like.
Inside the showroom, he approached a salesperson, questioning them about the price and specifications of the models in the showroom. The salesperson, seeing the face of just any other poor Indian, ignored the King’s request for a test drive. The raciest salesperson went as far as to rudely show him out of the showroom. With his pride insulted, the King returned to his hotel, furious about the treatment from the salesperson.
As a King
In his hotel, the King requested an official visit to the same showroom. This time, when he arrived adorned his kingly attire, he was greeted with a lavish red carpet and all the salespeople welcoming him at the gate, standing to the side and paying their respects.
The King spent more than two hours touring the showroom, testing all six models on display. By the time he left, he had bought out the entire showroom, even paying the full amount in cash — including the price of delivery — right there.
The luxurious garbage trucks of India
As soon as the King returned to India, he ordered the municipality of New Delhi to use of extravagant, top-dollar cars as garbage disposal cars. The fleet of grand beasts traveled all around New Delhi, collecting and transporting the garbage of the “poor, lowly” Indian citizens.
Rolls Royce’s tarnished reputation
Naturally, the word spread like wildfire. The number one manufacturer of cars in the 1920s, Rolls Royce, was humiliated at hearing the news. A Rolls Royce was now seen as “the same car used to carry the Indians’ garbage.” People who used to drive their lavish Rolls Royces with pride were now embarrassed to be seen in public with them. Rolls Royces’ reputation fell rapidly all around the world.
After telegraphing an apology and shipping six more Rolls Royces to him, the King finally forgave the branded company, believing they had finally learned their lesson.