To apologise or not to, 'tis the question

When Karthik advocates caution at apologizing when a marketer messes up, he has a pertinent point. Sure, apologies must be offered with caution. Let’s consider times that call for an apology.

Lets for moment consider the point that Karthik raises of ‘short memory on the public’s part’ as a reason why no ‘product issues’ should be escalated to the extent it becomes a point of discussion in the public space, doing the brand no good. Going by that logic, if the public has a short memory and tends to forget, that tendency should even be extended to the apology. Post apology too, they would forget, therefore why desist from offering it?

Now about the apology. If the issue that affects a brand rises out of an allegation that may not have received wide coverage, and which is not substantiated, ignoring it is the best way out. But what about the times, when it’s a genuine aggrieved consumer talking? Or a case of an ‘allegation’ that receives wide media attention? Then, the dynamics change drastically.

Take the ‘pesticide controversy’, for example. I remember Sunita Narain crying hoarse, about how Coke and Pepsi have ruined the water tables in India, from every possible media vehicle that she hopped on to. Should she be ignored, not responded to? It must be noted that the media as a communique vehicle is seen as neutral and therefore accorded a lot of credibility. The damage that follows can at times even cripple a brand. Responding at such times, of course, not with an apology, is extremely important.

In the case of the 'Flaming Fords', with aggrieved customers airing their grievances, an apology goes a long way in smoothing frayed consumer faith. In fact it a great opportunity to act honorably and build even greater credibility for the brand. People may forget the ‘flaming ford’. But in the future, even if its remembered, it would remembered as a case of how Ford acted honorably; the ‘stain’ of a flawed product would thus be erased away.

In the end, apologies must be offered quickly and with a great deal a thought, though that may not seem the easiest of thing to do. It can only do the brand more of good than harm.


Unknown said…

I think an apology ensures people calm down and help in reducing the length of the aversion wave. So as you said think and apologize.

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