Sorry! We Want Your Business!

6 May
Artist: Banksy. Photo by Duncan Hull via Flickr. Used with permission.

Artist: Banksy. Photo by Duncan Hull via Flickr.
Used with permission.

Does a corporate apology for marketing really mean anything?

There’s been a lot of apologizing going on lately. The most recent example I’ve noticed is JC Penny, doing a whopping 180-degree about-face on the actions of their former CEO Ron Johnson, having to do with their new approach to marketing (no sales, just fair prices). That CEO’s former company? Apple.

Apple also did an apology for its Maps product a while back. This would have been unthinkable with Steve Jobs at the helm, but those days are over. For what it’s worth, I’ve used Apple maps in NYC, Los Angeles, and many U.S. cities in between without fail. But I can’t remember the last time I purchased anything from a JC Penny. And it’s one of the anchor stores at the local mall.

The Verdict? Yawn.

My thinking on apologies from large companies is, “ho-hum.” My heart goes out to the PR teams and corporate communicators who are charged with carrying these out, but I’m far more interested in hearing what’s going to be done about the situation, and getting on with that. At least in the case of Makers’s Mark, it resulted in something (though I still wonder if this was a stunt). Sure, it’s nice to hear an apology, and in these days of greater corporate accessibility via social media, it isn’t altogether inappropriate. But I think what really matters is getting back to business.

What do you think? Do the actions of JC Penny or Apple or any company’s apology for their missteps get your attention? Are there any examples of this being extremely effective? Let us hear from you in the comments.


2 Responses to “Sorry! We Want Your Business!”

  1. rebecca2000 May 6, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    I don’t know. I was going to write a post today about this very thing (post it tomorrow). I hate feeling manipulated by companies. But when I worked as a top rep of a billion dollar company, I always refused to use the company line. I brought in millions of dollars worth of business a month so when the CEO would call me in his office, I would give him the verbal finger. I didn’t need the job, and I wasn’t going to lie to the customer. Here is the kicker, I was the top rep for a reason. My customers adored me for it.

    This meant, my territory was the best. It also meant they they were hard up when I left. They got in trouble with the government for some funny practices and went under about 6 months after I left. Some of my customers are still friends with me and offer me jobs periodically.

    I say all of this because, it was being honest and taking responsibility that earned loyalty. That said, I didn’t grovel and I didn’t make excuses. No one likes that.

    • rsmithing May 6, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

      Nothing stands up like the truth. Thanks very much for sharing your story – I think you raise an important point: an apology, or any communication, is worthless if it isn’t sincere. And wow, it seems your former employer had some ethical and integrity issues on top of that. Congrats on having moved on and also respect for keeping it real.

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