Monday, August 13, 2007
What do you do when you do something bad?
I have been both blessed and cursed with an elephantine and near photographic memory. That means I can do really well on Jeopardy! but have a hard time in relationships because I remember everything that ever happened along with times and dates. Though I am aware that not everyone is as compendious as I am, people, even the most brain-fried and feeble must have some recall.
They know OJ did something. Gary Hart (if they remember him) did something. Dow Chemical made Napalm (R) and Agent Orange even if they spend millions on advertising today that proclaims their humanity. And so on.
My question is (and it's only a question) is what do we as marketers do when our products have done bad things? In the You-Tube Youniverse a dumb statement or action in a small town now becomes a national story. Mitt Romney equating his five sons' work on his campaign to military service or Guiliani saying he was as exposed to 9/11 dust as anyone, are two recent examples. From a multi-national point of view, Ford attempting to cover-up its New Jersey Superfund site and BP (the beyond petroleum company) running America's dirtiest and most-dangerous petro-chemical plant are two more examples. The fact is, people and companies are going to do and say dumb things. And they will be "found out." What should they do when they are?
My instincts say that the first company or politician that embraces genuine contrition will make PR hay. I guess it's like a fight with your spouse. I fucked up.
I made a mistake. I'll try not to do it again. Please forgive me because I am just flesh. That tactic should work for a while. Probably better than denial.
Posted by George Tannenbaum at 10:30 AM