Written by • Published 11th January 2017 • 5 minute read

Saying sorry can be difficult, especially if you’re doing so on the behalf of a multi-million-dollar company. However, a good, honest apology is essential if you want to keep your company looking a million-dollars in the eyes of the public. Arguably one of the worst ever corporate apologies was that of BP CEO Tony Hayward after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, in the wake of 11 deaths he said “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back”. So, can anything come close to that? Here a 5 of the worst brand apologies, and 5 of the best to lighten the load.

Five Worst Brand Apologies

Protein World - Crisis Management PR

Image Courtesy of: Zara Kenyon, Cosmopolitan.co.uk

  1. After the release of their ‘Are you beach body ready campaign?’ Protein World received a huge negative backlash online and in the press, how did they respond? By saying those who called out their body-shaming ad were ‘sympathisers for fatties’…probably not the best way to regain trust. They later tried to claim it was all a PR stunt, regardless it was still in poor taste.

2. Back in 2014 a Chevron fracking well exploded in Pennsylvania, killing one and injuring another, not to mention the disruption and potential threat to residents in the area and the environment. And what did they receive in the way of an apology? Gift certificates for pizza and soft drink…for an explosion which sparked a fire that burned for four days. Not quite up to par we think.

 

Chevron Explosion - Crisis Management PR

Image Courtesy of: nofrackingway.com

  1. Following Volkswagens emissions scandal, Michael Horn delivered what he termed “a sincere apology”, but this was not how everyone else saw it. Horns performance was largely seen as lack luster, showing little remorse nor a clear commitment to reform.

 

  1. You’d hope that by now the US government would be rather good at apologies, however they way they handled the long-awaited apology to the Native American peoples says otherwise. The apology, which was the first-ever admission by the US government, was tucked away in the middle of a 2010 spending bill. The document apologised to “all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States”, but didn’t reference any specific acts or instances of violence, such as the Trail of Tears. The bill went on to add that this apology did not authorize or support any settlement claim against the US.
Barack Obama Bill - The PHA Group

Image Courtesy of: The White House, flickr.com

  1. Lululemon received a large number of complaints in 2013 over the quality of their leggings, which were often found to be see-through. Instead of issuing an apology for poorly made items, founder Chip Wilson got them into a right mess in when he said that ‘some women’s bodies just don’t actually work’ for Lululemon’s clothes. By blaming women’s bodies for coming in different shapes and sizes, he caused absolute uproar and was forced to recall the leggings and issue an apology. However, even then he only managed an apology to his employees, not the countless women he had offended! Luckily it looks like they’ve fixed the issue now.

 

 

 

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Five Best Brand Apologies

  1. Apple were in hot water leading up to their release of Apple Music, after Taylor Swift called them out on not paying artists royalties during the 3-month trial period they offered. After her blog post, titled ‘Dear Apple, Love Taylor’, Apple publically announced a U-turn in their policy on twitter. “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BL44K7Vhm4s/?taken-by=taylorswift&hl=en

  1. When four teenagers suffered serious leg injuries in the Smiler crash at Alton Towers, it was clear that thoughtful consideration and compensation would be required to begin to make amends to those affected. Nick Varney, CEO, was quick to react and delivered a sincere and heartfelt apology to the victims, as well as immediately assuring full compensation without the need for legal queries. He garnered further public support after he came under what was deemed unfair attack in this Sky News interview.

  1. Not all apologies surround catastrophes, when Naked Wines were facing membership closures they sent a rather brilliant email to those who had cancelled their accounts, saying sorry and asking when they could’ve done better. Seeing the funny side of failure is what made this such a great apology, so much so that you can’t really stay mad at them.

 

Naked Wines Funny Apology - PR PHA

Image Courtesy of: Christopher Ratcliff, econsultancy.com

 

  1. Barclays, post accusations that its employees colluded to fix the LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate, they sent out an earnest apology letter reassuring their commitment to their customers, saying ‘you are the lifeblood of our company’. Chairman Marcus Agius also issued an apology for manipulating Libor rates and resigned as chairman. The transparency offered following the scandal helped saved Barclays from a more long-lasting reputation crisis.
Barclays Apology - Business PR The PHA Group

Image Courtesy of: Linette Lopez, businessinsider.com

 

  1. Okay so this last one might not be a real apology, but we think it’s just too good not to include. Durex, a brand whose entire livelihood depends on people not wanting to conceive, took to the press to apologise to the people of Singapore. Piggybacking Singapore’s celebration of SG50, an event marking 50 years of independence, they produced a letter addressed the falling birth-rates in Singapore, and urging people to forgo the use of their products and ‘Make love your priority this SG50.

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