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  • Writer's pictureSPRD

Facing the Music: How Brands Turn Adversity into Advancement

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

There’s an old saying: "To err is human, to forgive, divine." In the corporate world, where the stakes are high and reputations hang in the balance turning adversity into advancement, managing reputation amidst crisis can sometimes be a brand’s worst nightmare. But today, we want to introduce a silver lining that many brands have employed to great success: Acceptance in PR.

One thing to understand is that brands are run by people, so when a brand makes a mistake, people’s first instinct is often to deny, deflect, or downplay. In today's world of constant social media and non-stop news, trying to hide issues often doesn't work for long. Instead, it's better to admit the problem, take responsibility, be clear and honest in communication, and take steps to fix the problem.

However, in the corporate world - as in any walk of life - missteps are inevitable. As we venture further into this topic, you will delve into a few case studies. These brands faced their blunders head-on and brilliantly wielded the power of acceptance in their PR strategies to emerge even stronger.

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In this age of the Internet, virality can be both a blessing and a curse. Domino’s Pizza experienced the harsh side of this double-edged sword when a video surfaced online. This wasn’t just any video; it showed two of their employees violating health codes. It was appalling. It was the kind of content that makes a brand's heart sink: clear, undeniable, and instantly shareable. The video spread like wildfire, casting a negative light on the brand's operational integrity.

Most companies might have tried to mitigate the damage through PR spins or legal threats. But Domino’s took a different, more genuine route. Their CEO didn’t hide behind press releases or corporate statements; he stepped right into the spotlight, facing the issue head-on. Using the same platform where the controversy started – YouTube – he offered a candid response.

His acknowledgement was not filled with corporate jargon. He didn’t skirt around the problem or blame the employees. He candidly acknowledged the oversight, revealing a previously unseen facet of the brand: humility. This wasn’t just an apology; it was a heartfelt acknowledgement of where the brand had gone wrong.

But what truly set Domino's approach apart was their commitment to action. The CEO detailed the immediate actions the company was undertaking - like the termination of the involved employees and a thorough check of their outlets - and also spoke about long-term measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. This included retraining the staff and revisiting their health and safety protocols.

By embracing transparency and showing a genuine desire to rectify the mistake, they managed to redefine the narrative. Customers saw not a faceless corporation, but a brand with integrity, willing to admit its mistakes and earnestly work towards a solution.

It’s Finger-Lickin' Good

In 2018, KFC, the global fast-food giant known for its crispy chicken, found itself in a rather ironic situation. The UK outlets faced an unprecedented chicken shortage due to supply chain disruptions, compelling the closure of hundreds of stores. It was a scenario ripe for public outcry and negative press.

Rather than taking a defensive stance or downplaying the issue, KFC demonstrated both creativity and accountability. Embracing a mix of humor and candor, they rolled out a full-page apology in major national newspapers. The unforgettable ad took a playful jab at themselves by rearranging their iconic brand letters to spell "FCK," positioned prominently above an image of an empty chicken bucket.

This ingenious campaign achieved two crucial things: it conveyed KFC's genuine regret for the inconvenience caused, and it simultaneously lightened the mood, turning potential negativity into a moment of shared laughter. By blending sincerity with wit, KFC not only diffused a potentially damaging situation but also endeared itself further to its customer base. It was a masterstroke in PR, underlining the brand's adaptability, humility, and keen understanding of its audience.

It’s not a phone, it’s a Galaxy

In the fiercely competitive world of consumer electronics, companies are constantly pushing the envelope, aiming to deliver the next big thing. In this race, Samsung, a titan in the industry, stumbled significantly in 2016 with its much-anticipated Galaxy Note 7.

Excitement for the Galaxy Note 7 was palpable, but soon after its launch, reports began pouring in from different corners of the world: phones were overheating and, in some cases, catching fire.

The initial shock and disbelief quickly turned into widespread concern. Videos of charred phones became viral sensations, leading to negative headlines and memes. For any brand, this would be a worst-case scenario, but for a tech giant like Samsung, whose reputation hinged on innovation and reliability, this was a potential danger.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the company swiftly initiated one of the most extensive tech recalls in history. This wasn’t just about pulling malfunctioning units off the shelves; it was a clear message to consumers: "Your safety is our priority."

In the midst of a storm, Samsung did something that not many brands would dare. They invited scrutiny. By transparently communicating their processes, they kept the public updated about their investigations into the root cause of the problem. This move was crucial. While the world watched, Samsung methodically broke down the issue, ensuring everyone knew they were committed to rectifying the problem.

Beyond addressing the immediate crisis, Samsung looked to the future. They revamped their quality assurance protocols, introduced an eight-point battery safety check, and made significant organizational changes to prioritize product safety. These weren’t just internal shifts; they were openly communicated to the public. By ensuring that future products met stringent safety standards, Samsung wasn’t merely repairing its image; it was setting a new industry benchmark.

The Galaxy Note 7 crisis had all the elements to sink a brand: a highly anticipated product, a significant malfunction, and a global consumer base. However, Samsung's response transformed this potential catastrophe into a masterclass in crisis management.

What do these brands teach us?

"In the face of adversity, true brands don't just manage; they evolve."

Today in this world, where consumers wield significant power and demand utmost transparency, brands must live by the principle that "Honesty is the Best Policy."

Transparently acknowledging missteps not only displays commendable integrity but also neutralizes potentially damaging narratives. But a mere mea culpa isn't the finish line.

"Action Speaks Louder than Words" rings true, especially when trust is on the line. It's the tangible efforts to rectify and prevent that resonate deeply with customers.

Progressive brands, instead of crumbling under PR mishaps, see them as unique windows of opportunity. These moments, if approached rightly, allow brands to reaffirm their values, deepen connections, and underscore a relentless commitment to betterment.

The Way Forward

Acceptance in PR is not about glorifying mistakes or seeking them out. It's about acknowledging that brands, like people, are not infallible. And when mistakes happen, as they inevitably will, it's how a brand responds that determines its true character and future reputation.


Psst! This blog was made with 💕 and created after some thought by a real person.


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