The Danger And The Opportunity
All the hard work of building a brand can be erased in a blink of the eye when a crisis hits and you make the wrong move. At the same time, a brand that handles a crisis appropriately can emerge undamaged -- and in rare circumstances even enhanced.
(Perhaps now would be the appropriate place to note that the Chinese symbol for crisis is a combination of the symbols for danger and opportunity.)
So when the Turner Broadcasting System’s guerilla marketing campaign caused a wave of bomb scares in Boston, they had a serious crisis on their hands. How did they do?
When you’re in a crisis, the most important step you can take is to immediately admit when you've messed up and follow that by quickly, and sincerely apologizing. While some in Boston would argue this point, Turner fessed up pretty quickly on the day of the scare and released a reasonable – but not perfect - statement saying sorry.
The next day, top executives from Turner logged calls all around town to the Mayor and others to offer the company's personal mea culpas. They also signaled a willingness to reimburse both the city and the state for all the trouble. They followed that with a full page ad in the Boston Globe formally apologizing to the citizens of Boston. Pretty good stuff – apology accepted.
In contrast, the folks at Interference refused to say anything for two and a half days allowing the two “performance artists” whose work caused the scare to give a press conference where they made a big joke of the whole thing. Only late Friday, did they break their silence by releasing a statement and putting their lawyer out to talk to the press. Too little, too late – apology not accepted.
Two different approaches, two different outcomes. It’s interesting to note that the client, not the marketing experts in this instance got it right.